In preparation to become the hopes of our future, children must be raised with love and care as well as exercising their rights to play and study. However, to some areas where a comfortable life cannot be reached, a child opportunity turns into responsibility.

Darry P. Sarceno is the eldest son in his family residing at Brgy. Progreso Este, Odiongan, Romblon where way of living comes from farming, copra and charcoal making.

As most children go to school to pursue their dreams, Darry had to stop as he knew it will only add to their expenses. His parents’ priority is to provide food and other house necessities.

At the age of 15, Darry had to work to help his parents in charcoal production. He had to endure the sleepless nights guarding the hot furnace until the process of charcoal making is over. He also had several wounds he got from wood cutting. All these to support their daily needs together with his six siblings.

With the existing child labor cases just like with Darry’s, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through its Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program continuously conducts profiling activity to identify child laborers and provide assistance and/or referrals to prevent these children from engaging in hazardous work.

On December 2020, to realize the campaign against child labor, Darry’s family was provided with Sari – Sari Store Pangkabuhayan Package under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood program worth Php20,000.00.

DOLE MIMAROPA Regional Director Atty. Joffrey M. Suyao said, “The department strongly supports the government’s campaign, thus we intensify the provision of livelihood assistance to the parents of child laborers. And we envisioned that through the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders, we can achieve zero child labor cases.”

Months after, Sarceno’s Sari-sari Store have now flourished as the ventured into a gulayan (vegetable selling) business and retailing of gasoline.

Moreover, Darry goes back to school as Grade 9 student and hoping to finish his studies and said, “Thank you DOLE for helping me and my family. I promise to do well and become a policeman someday. I will study harder to achieve my dreams to help others especially my family.”

Divina P. Sarceno, Darry’s mother, expressed her gratitude to the department for bringing a life changing assistance as she said,” I cannot express how happy I am. DOLE made it possible for my child to go back to school and stop working in charcoal production. I pray that the department will continue helping the child laborers and their families. We promise to do our best as parents to support our children in achieving their dreams and we will not let them engage in child labor ever again.”

End/ Sarah Jane B. Ferranco