DSWD Field Office VIII employees distribute storybooks and other IEC materials on SHIELD Against Child Labor Project during a Children’s Conference held at the Municipality of Kananga in Leyte.
BATASAN COMPLEX, Quezon City (DWDD) – Recognizing the importance of information dissemination in its campaign against child labor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) intensified its advocacy campaign to expose the evils of child labor with the launch of various information, education, and communication (IEC) materials meant to not only increase public awareness on the issue, but to mobilize people to take action against it.
The IEC materials, which include, among others, a storybook for children, a briefer on child labor, and a primer on Republic Act 9231 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, were developed by the DSWD and other members of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) in support of the Department’s SHIELD Against Child Labor Project.
SHIELD stands for Strategic Helpdesk for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions, a model intervention developed by the DSWD which aims to help eliminate child labor, particularly its worst forms by strengthening the fight against it all the way down to the barangay and community levels.
The information materials were launched in a Children’s Conference held in the Municipality of Kananga, Leyte on Wednesday with the support of Vice Mayor Elmer Codilla and Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Youth Member Rex Capanas; and in Ormoc City yesterday with Mayor Richard Gomez.
Kananga and Ormoc are the two pilot areas of SHIELD Project in Region VIII. In May last year, the DSWD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local government units of Ormoc City and the Municipality of Kananga for the pilot implementation of the project.
Other pilot areas include the Municipality of Catanauan, Quezon in CALABARZON; and, Labo, Jose Panganiban, and Paracale, Camarines Norte in Region V.
DSWD Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel A. Leyco urged the public and its partners to continue to support the DSWD and the NCLC’s anti-child labor campaign and to help the Department in its massive information and awareness campaign about the dangers of child labor.
“Information dissemination is a big part our campaign against child labor. We need to create heightened awareness among the public regarding the negative effects of heavy labor on children in order to lessen and soon eradicate child labor practices in the country,” OIC Leyco said.
“Beyond awareness, however – we need to mobilize communities and those in the public and private sector to take more concrete actions against child labor. We need to be more proactive and work together to eradicate the conditions that allow child labor so that one day completely no child needs to help their family survive,” he added.
Saving children from child labor
The launch of DSWD’s IEC materials for SHIELD Project was attended by representatives from the Department’s partner-national government agencies and non-government organizations, as well child laborers from the pilot areas who each received a copy of the storybook entitled, “Si Elena at Ang Kanyang Mga Pangarap.”
One of the child laborers who attended the event was Shiela, 10 years old, from Brgy. Tugbong in the town of Kananga. At a young age, Sheila is already exposed to hazardous labor. Armed with bolo, she regularly helps clear the farm where her father is a tenant to earn additional money for her family. While she attends school, she nonetheless still has to skip classes twice a week to help her father. Sheila said she sees her situation of working on the farm as ‘normal.’
Sheila is among the many children the DSWD wants to save from child labor.
“Poverty is the main reason why many children are forced to perform heavy and hazardous work at an early age. To eradicate child labor, we must help address poverty. The DSWD, through its programs and services, has been continuously helping Filipinos alleviate their lives from poverty,” OIC Leyco explained.
“Attaining a child labor-free country is a genuine challenge, but we are positive that with strong inter-agency support in the implementation of SHIELD Project, we can help save more and more Filipino children from the bond of child labor and ensure that they will enjoy their childhood,” the Officer-in-Charge ended. DSWD SMS / MCAG