World Vision’s child sponsorship: For every child you support, four more benefit

Jecel says she’s one of the four.

Now 23 and the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) Federation Chairman in the municipality of Tudela in Misamis Occidental, she looks back at how she started with her advocacy for children.

“It was in 2012. I was 15 years old. World Vision was encouraging children below 18 to join the barangay (village) children’s association. I started with attending seminars that they opened to all children and not just to their sponsored kids, until I became more engaged,” she shares. BCA is a community level mechanism to educate children on their rights. It’s a also a venue for them to participate and eventually contribute in strengthening child protection mechanisms.

Jecel became the BCA leader in her village. In 2015, she was leading the children’s association of 33 villages.

“With support from World Vision and our village leaders, we did a lot of awareness raising activities that aimed to empower children by teaching them about their rights. Another highlight of these years was me, becoming a peace advocate,” Jecel recalls.

“I was trained as an ECAP (empowering children as peace builders) facilitator. Together with other World Vision child leaders, we were tapped by the organisation to co-facilitate different training and activities. That brought us to different places,” she adds. She led the roll out of ECAP training in her town, recognising that she lives in a community where people have different beliefs. Tudela is a mix of Christians and people from the Subanen tribe.

Jecel remained active in the children’s association even when she entered university. After finishing her degree in Business Administration, she was elected as her village’s and eventually her town’s Sangguniang Kabataan president. She is now part of her local government’s legislative body where she has been pushing for and supporting ordinances that support children’s welfare.

“Coming from the children’s association, one of the things we wanted was to be present in the council for the protection of the children, both at the village and at the municipal level. Most of the time, it’s the adults that decide for the children, but, I believe that child representatives in those decision-making bodies is also essential,” she shares. Last year, 2019, it was finally realised through an ordinance that she supported.

“It’s a feat. I’m excited to what these children’s associations can do. I started with BCA and I’m happy to see where it is going.I am also grateful that I was constantly engaged by World Vision when I was young. Even though I was not a sponsored child, I feel like I’ve always been one,” Jecel concludes.

Aside from being a staunch advocate of child’s rights, Jecel is also now busy in leading the youth councils in supporting their local government’s efforts in combatting COVID-19.