The First Boy in His Family to Finish School

boy looking for scrap metal amidst an oil spill in the Philippines

A very excited Jerry started grade 3 last week, an opportunity denied to most of his brother’s and sisters. This is particularly poignant today on World Day Against Child Labour.

Like the other 2.1 million+ Filipino kids already working, Jerry’s brother’s and sisters are all part of these statistics, and this would have been his fate also.

Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. In the Philippines, there are 2.1 million child labourers aged 5-17 years. About 95% of them are in hazardous work.

~ International Labour Organisation

Jerry and his sister.
Jerry’s sister visits us.

In April this year,  Jerry’s older sister travelled from Manila back to Estancia to obtain her paperwork from the National High School here. After completing only Grade 7 she was taken out of school and moved to Manila to work as a domestic helper (servant).

After more than 5 years of work, her employer is now sponsoring her high school education. Despite being more than 20 years old, Jerry’s sister will begin Grade 8 this week. She will study at night and continue working for her employer. If she continues her studies and finishes she will be the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

Jerry has three other school-age sisters but all of them were removed from class during elementary (primary school) to work.

Forced into working by circumstances or by coercive individuals, these kids lose their childhood completely and I’m so happy that Jerry has the opportunity to be a little boy, to play and have toys, (and most of all) to go to school. Jerry will be the first boy in his family to finish school and most likely the only one to have the opportunity to attend college or university.

Ending Child Labour

From what I have witnessed personally here in the Philippines, Child Labour walks hand-in-hand with poverty. As individuals we can contribute to the eradication of Child Labour by being mindful in our purchases, shopping locally, growing some of our food and getting educated.

We can also help by sharing our wealth. Why not sponsor an overseas child and improve the circumstances of an entire family and enable a kid to go to school rather than work. There are loads of excellent organisations. Apart from my projects here in the Phillipines, I have been sponsoring a little girl in Ghana since 2011 and I look forward to one day travelling to Africa to meet her. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

#endpoverty #notochildlabour #STOPchildlabour

world map showing high areas of child exploitation
This image was sourced from the website of “Releasing Children From Poverty in Jesus’ Name”. Click the image to visit their website and learn more about Child Labour globally.

© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine

Filipinos trying to rebuilt their lives are Typhoon Yolanda are at risk every day after Powerbarge 103 dumped 900,000 litres of bunker fuel and oil on the shoreline of Botongon (Estancia).

The image above is of Jerry’s older brother in 2013 just after Typhoon Yolanda. He is wading through an oil spill looking for scrap metal. Powerbarge 103 dumped 900,000 litres of bunker fuel and oil on the shoreline here in Estancia causing signficant damage, fatalities, as well as ongoing health issues for the residents. You may not realise but at the time of the photo he was 14 years old. So tiny.

I didn’t take this photo, I actually found it by accident while researching the Typhoon a few years back. The photo was displayed on national media and was sourced from the following website. My apologies to the person who originally took the photo for not acknowledging you any better than this. Jerry appreciates this photo of his brother.

The boy in the photo (Jerry’s brother) only went to grade 2. Now just 18 he has been working on fishing boats for many years. He is still very tiny. Sometimes we see him if the boat is in port and he walks past the house into the market.

5 responses to “The First Boy in His Family to Finish School”

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  3. Susan W Goldstein Avatar

    Every day should be Against Child Labour. Hurrah for Jerry and hurrah for you!

    1. Melinda J. Irvine Avatar

      Yes totally agree and thanks. Jerry really loves toys and playing and it’s so nice to witness him be a little kid. Mel.

  4. Melinda J. Irvine Avatar

    Reblogged this on My Adopted Kid and commented:

    Today is World Day Against Child Labour and Jerry’s brothers and sisters have all been victims of Child Labour. I wrote this post to celebrate Jerry’s progress in school and to acknowledge the more than 2.1 million Filipino kids who are denied a childhood.