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A time to give back: Former child laborer now a government intern

THE CHILD Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) is one of the flagship programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for a child-labor-free Philippines. A significant number of beneficiaries have already shared their transformative stories which translate to the success of the program.

Just as success stories inspire other people, storytellers also have been inspired to return the favor. And this is true with Steven Villamora, a former child laborer residing in Sitio Looban, Brgy. Poblacion, Malita, Davao Occidental who is now serving under the Government Internship Program (GIP), assigned at the DOLE Davao Occidental Field Office.

Steven’s life story is full of hardships and struggles as he faced early adversities when his father died due to lung cancer. As his mother battled her illness and underwent a difficult recovery, Steven found himself taking on even more responsibilities as the caregiver and the sole provider for the family. These circumstances led him to child labor when he was only 10. Steven ventured into the trade of selling fish, aided fishermen in hoisting their boats, and worked as a store attendant in a rice retailing shop from morning to afternoon. These instances had put the quality of his education at stake.

With this challenging situation, Steven was identified by DOLE-DOCFO as one of the child laborers in the locality during the profiling activity of DOLE’s Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) back in 2019.

Recognizing his needs, DOLE-DOCFO, together with other stakeholders, facilitated suitable interventions such as counseling, healthcare, education, and social welfare assistance, all aimed at addressing the underlying challenges and ensuring a stable environment for Steven’s growth and development. Apart from these, Steven’s mother was granted livelihood and skills training under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP). He was also provided with the opportunity to become a Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) beneficiary which allowed him to gain practical skills and knowledge that complemented his academic learning while earning to support his education.

These collaborative efforts resulted to the withdrawal of Steven from being a child laborer. In 2023, Steven earned his degree in Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Science at the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST). He has also successfully passed the licensure examination for teachers and the civil service examination.

With these achievements, Steven expressed his desire to serve the government especially to help promote the advocacy of the program that provided significant change in his life. He is currently a GIP intern of the CLPEP Team of DOLE-DOCFO whose work assignment includes validating of monitoring forms of child laborers, updating the database, and attending to walk-in clients especially child laborers and their families.

In his words of gratitude, Steven shared, “I am eternally grateful to DOLE and its programs that helped me and my family to overcome adversities and thrive during hard times. In return, I commit to be an ally of the department in promoting its campaign to achieve a child-labor-free Philippines. And I hope to inspire other child laborers that despite the unfavorable situation life may give, there’s always a way for us to surpass and break the chain of poverty.” 

“DOLE is dedicated to rescuing children from the risks of child labor and providing them with the necessary assistance to rebuild their lives. We firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive, and we will continue to work tirelessly to make this a reality,” said Atty. Randolf C. Pensoy, DOLE XI regional director.


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