The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) regional office in MIMAROPA has launched a program to help provide for the material needs of child laborers here.

In an interview on Tuesday, Naomi Lyn Abellana, director of DOLE-Region 4B, said that the fresh initiative specifically targets child workers, aged 6 to 12, in the informal sector.

She explained that these kids are not victims of child abuse because working in the informal sector means that they are only helping out in their small family businesses.

Dubbed “Sama Sama Para sa Batang Malaya,” the project was officially launched on Independence Day, in ceremonies attended by labor and town officials.

As part of the launching ceremonies, 101 child laborers were granted items from their “wish lists,” Abellana said.

These wishes consist of items that the youthful beneficiaries have long wanted but could not afford, and so they wrote to the DOLE for help.

In turn, DOLE officials reached out to companies and affluent individuals to help fulfill the kids’ material wishes, Abellana explained.

“They (child laborers) requested for cellphones, bicycles, cloths, shoes, bags, and toys. These are things that any child would ask for. They were very happy,” Abellana said in Filipino.

During the launching event, parents also received gifts from the DOLE and other donors in the form of rice, vitamins and even reading glasses, she added.

The labor official also credited many anonymous donors, including some DOLE employees, for helping fill the child laborers’ wish lists.

It was further explained that the DOLE is continuing to tap more donors as Batang Malaya is a region-wide initiative.

“We are taking this (Batang Malaya project) to another town on June 26,” said Abellana. (PNA)

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