(Philippines). On 10 December 2021, on the occasion of World Human Rights Day, the Laura Vicuña Foundation (LVF) – NGO partnership between the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of St. Mary D. Mazzarello Province (FIL) and lay professionals/collaborators to address the needs and problems of street children, organized an online dialogue on the rights of children with 35 representatives of the LVF partners with multi-sectoral expertise, from government, non-governmental, and religious organizations, and some schools of Luzon, Visaya, and Mindanao.
Contributions and sharing and participants highlighted several violations of the rights of children, in particular the increase in child labor due to the economic crisis and the growing invisibility of new forms of online and offline sexual abuse and exploitation during this pandemic, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Proposals emerged from the dialogue to describe and monitor the real situations of children living in difficult conditions with respect to the protection of their rights, accentuated by the context of the pandemic. Support will be provided at the level of the child, in ensuring their protection online and in the services provided by the various governmental and non-governmental organizations to which the participants in the online meeting belong. The second support is at the family level, with the parents’ commitment to monitoring. The third level is the school, where difficulties have been encountered in managing hybrid learning due to the pandemic, which has led to cases of children lured online for child labor or sexual exploitation and to numerous school dropouts. Of primary importance are the consolidation and convergence of all agencies involved in the educational and child protection process.
Sr. Maria Victoria Santa Ana, FMA, Administrator of the Laura Vicuña Foundation, thanked the participants for sharing some concrete principles towards a world without violence, with adults who take care to guarantee a better world for children in which to grow and live safely.
LVF support and joint action to promote the rights of Philippine children
On the World Human Rights Day 2021, the Laura Vicuña Foundation joined the world community in echoing the theme of the year, which incorporates art. 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights.
In the time of the pandemic, the LVF has continued to be a point of reference and hope for families and children in need in ten rural and urban communities where it has established committees to protect children and that encourage families to face the daily challenges by respecting and promoting one’s own dignity and that of others.
The LVF supports the principle that the promotion of children’s rights stems from their innate dignity as persons and, to safeguard these rights, is committed to creating an environment conducive to their growth. In this regard, LVF organizes listening and counseling forums where parents, children, local officials, and other partners have a safe space in which to express concerns and fears, and in which to receive encouragement and practical guidance to ensure that no child is left behind, no one is left alone, feels excluded or is deprived of opportunities to seek justice and achieve peace.
The Laura Vicuna Foundation is committed to continuing this path of hope for all children and under its protection, in favorable or unfavorable times, inviting all the agencies involved to collaborate to build a world suitable for children everywhere.