A parent of a former child laborer from Baseco Port Area, Manila is thankful to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for its provision of livelihood assistance through the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP).

Life started difficult for the family of Mary Grace Ramos. To sustain the needs of her four children, it demanded her hard work to raise them as a single parent. But since a small sari-sari store and selling of beauty products were her only source of income, she was not able to provide everything her children needed, no matter how much she wanted to.

In 2016, Ramos’ son “Kiel” started to work at the age of nine. At a young age, Kiel realized the need to work to support his mom and three younger siblings. He helped his mom even as a student by selling some food items in the streets of Baseco Port Area to earn some money to spend for his school requirements and their family’s necessities.

Kiel was engaged in child labor brought by poverty to attain their basic needs. But Kiel was eliminated from child labor in 2019 when he was profiled by a GIP Enumerator from DOLE-NCR Manila Field Office. When his mom was interviewed, DOLE knew that a livelihood assistance would be best for their family.

In 2019, Mary Grace Ramos was awarded by DOLE with a livelihood assistance through the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP). She was provided with a total of P10,000 to help her make their sari-sari store more sustainable. The livelihood assistance provided by DOLE did not just eliminate his son Kiel from child labor, it also brought them hope and opportunity to improve their life.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa DOLE. Kung wala ang programang ito [DILP], marami pa rin ang mga taong hirap sa buhay tulad ng naranasan namin noon at ito rin ang nagpabago ng estado ng aming buhay. Nagkaroon kami ng pag-asa na aasenso kami sa buhay at magkakaroon kami ng opportunity para makapag-isip ng iba pang pagkakakitaan,” said Ramos.

Ramos and her son were really determined to improve their family’s situation. Their revenue from the sari-sari store provided their everyday needs and also gave them the capacity to take on new ventures to earn more income.

Presently, aside from having a sari-sari store, their family now also has an e-loading station and rush ID photo studio. These were ideas of Kiel who became computer-literate because of his academics. At first, it was quite hard for her mother to start all these, but she was thankful to his son as he taught her how to manage their sources of income. Ramos is currently earning a minimum of P1,000 to P1,500 per day.

“Sana mas marami pang matulungan ang DOLE na kapus-palad tulad namin. Sa murang edad, nagtrabaho na ang anak ko na hindi naman dapat. Marami pa ang matutulungan ng DOLE sa pamamagitan ng mga programa nila,” Ramos said.

Kiel is one of the many children eliminated from child labor through DOLE’s intervention. The Department continuously advocates for the welfare of children through various strategies, programs, and collaborations with other government agencies and other organizations.

END / Ernest Mhel C. Aranda and Justin T. Salapang