(Philippines). On 27 August 2021, the LVF National Youth Congress was held online, organized by the Laura Vicuña Foundation (LVF) of St. Mary Mazzarello Province (FIL) – partnership between the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and lay professionals / collaborators to address the needs and problems of street children on the subject of child labor.
The General Assembly of the United Nations declared the 2021 International Year for the elimination of child labor, defined by international labor standards as the work activity that deprives boys and girls of their childhood, their dignity, and negatively affects their psycho-physical development.
The Congress was attended by over 500 children and young people belonging to the LVF Foundation Communities and students from some schools in Metro Manila, the Province of Cebu, Iloilo, Samar and West Negros.
Sr. Maria Victoria Santa Ana, FMA, LVF General Director, at the opening of the Congress invited children and young people to discover and carry out the project that God has for each one. Child labor is a problem that affects many children in the Philippines, often forced to work in conditions of exploitation, at the risk of their health and the harmonious development of the person, to help maintain the family. Sr. Maria Victoria explained the purpose of the Congress: to offer a space for study and reflection on the problem, to identify possible paths of solution.
Two young LVF members and a Social Assistant served as facilitators of the Congress, fostering interaction and exchange of views between young participants and Foundation supporters on the topics covered: the definition of child and rights, child labor and its risks, some examples of dangerous work, and other topics related to this theme.
Sr. Runita Borja, General Councilor for Youth Ministry of the FMA Institute, addressed the participants reminding them that everyone has a role in the world and that God has given each one an education and talents to bring to full fulfillment, not only for personal and family well-being, but to be shared for the good of one’s community, of the Nation, and of everyone.
As a contribution to the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor, the participants reflected on how to work together to reduce or eliminate child labor. The Parents’ responsibility emerged to provide for the needs of their growing children, especially food and education, so that they do not go to work while they are still young. Families should also be guaranteed concrete help to get a job. A young participant suggested greater efforts to promote in the parents an awareness of children’s rights and the harmful effects of work in order to help reduce cases of child labor.