Solidarity Statement: Celebrating Freedom

Rommel V. Fuerte
National Director, World Vision Development Foundation, Inc.

On June 12, we commemorate our independence as a country The Philippines. We also remember this day as World Day Against Child Labor declared by the United Nations. σThis year’s timely theme is dubbed “Covid-19: Protect children now more than ever”.

In the past three months, our people have continued to suffer the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic in various shapes and pains. From the rising number of cases and deaths, to the slowdown of our economy and the massive disruption of millions of livelihood. Thousands of our families have awfully faced the loss and anguish more than we can imagine. The most to suffer are the most vulnerable, including the children who have not been spared from the risks and distress caused by this lingering crisis.

In a recent rapid assessment of World Vision, it reveals that among the respondents in the communities we serve, 61% have confirmed that their livelihoods have been fully or severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the daily wage workers.
The stress experienced by the parents have also been passed been passed on to their children, and sometimes by violent means

Study also revealed that children have expressed sadness and that they feel worried for themselves and their families, that when caregivers or parents cannot fully handle changes in children’s behavior, they resort to physical or psychological punishment, rendering children uncertain how they can seek help or protect themselves from abuse.

Some of the parents and caregivers are even inclined to consider drastic measures like sending their children to work, including high risk jobs, or send their children to relatives or institutions, based on the study.

What can be done? How can we even set children free from the shackles of violence and exploitation?

World Vision’s founder uttered this prayer 70 years ago, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Since 2003, World Vision has been committed to help reduce and eliminate child labor through initiatives like the Pag Aaral ng Bata para sa Kinabukasan, Take Every Action for Children Now, and Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy, and Protection to Reduce Child Labor programs.

With allies promoting justice and employment, World Vision also implements the Against Child Exploitation and Child Protection Compact projects to help build the capacity of key agencies and institutions to prevent and respond to Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and child labor trafficking.

Children are meant to be in school, but because of child labor and trafficking they are robbed of the opportunity to reach their full potential.

In pursuing hope and seeking justice for children exploited of their rights and dignity, I am always drawn back to our vision
“For every child, life in all its fullness, our prayer for every heart the will to make it so.”

Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that children are protected from any form of violence.

Just as we celebrate our independence and freedom every year, we hope to see that all children in the Philippines and around the world are set free from exploitation and abuse. We can start today.

Together, we are one for children.

Join our global petition to end violence against children around world.