As a part of its Actions in Advocacy program, CAMELEON organized training for representatives of Barangays of several Municipalities around Passi to educate them on children’s rights. In September of 2013, Nelson Franco was one of the representatives trained, and this training really changed his way of caring for the people of his area.
Today, he tells us about his story and his commitment to the children of his Barangay.
“I am Kagawad (Chief assistant) Nelson Franco of Barangay Gimomua Agahon, one of the farthest in Passi. This is my third turn as Barangay Kagawad and I am the one in charge of the Education and Human Rights Committee in our Barangay. I am also the facilitator of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC).
Being a Barangay Kagawad, I noticed that we neglected our children’s safety. We didn’t have a specific program for their protection, whereas we did have a day-care center and a pre-school. That’s why, when I attended the training, I realized that in our Barangay, there are not enough programs that benefit the children. There were so many things that we didn’t do for them, especially those children who needed protection from abuse, who engaged in vices, or who were working in the field rather than attending classes.
I was already in charge of the Education and Human Rights Committee in our Barangay, but, because of this training sponsored by CAMELEON, I decided to volunteer to become a facilitator of the BCPC. I really wanted to implement a program to prioritize children’s rights, because our Barangay has one of the highest numbers of children and is the third largest Barangay in the Municipality of Passi. I decided to focus on children’s rights and to encourage our Barangay Captain to reorganize and reactivate the BCPC. I made a plan and organized activities that I submitted to CAMELEON and to the local government.
The first activity that I implemented was to conduct meetings in every area of the Barangay. We met parents and emphasized children’s rights and protection against abuse. We reminded parents that they have to report any abuse or exposure to different vices, like alcoholic drinks, smoking, and drugs, to the Barangay Council. After these meetings, there were already cases of child abuse reported to DSWD and then referred to CAMELEON. Thanks to this education, parents are not afraid to report abuse to the DSWD, even if the perpetrator is a family member.
The next activity that we organized was the Youth Week, a one week program for children from December 18 to 24. The first day was allotted to the parents to continue to raise awareness about children’s rights. We allotted the second day to the day-care center and kindergarten children to play games. The 3rd day, we conducted an elementary day for all elementary school students: we invited people from the department of education to teach them their basic rights. The next day was for the High School students who received lectures about their rights and games with prizes for the winners. We also gave one day to the out of school youth. Most of these children stop school due to poverty and are forced into child labor. We also talked to these children about their rights and explained to them that they can go to the alternative learning center where the government is providing services for the out of school youth. We emphasized to them the importance of education.
Today, we are implementing a new program for our BCPC. We just made a calendar of events for 2015 and it was signed by our Barangay Captain. We scheduled the five following BCPC sponsored activities for the year:
- February 23 to 28 is a week for parents about the how to prevent child sexual abuse
- April 16 to 17 are Health Days, during which we will conduct a medical mission for the children
- May 4 to 9 is the No Tobacco Week to emphasize the negative impacts of smoking on the health of children
- October 1 to 30 is the Children’s Month, during which one week will be dedicated the Youth Week. Beginning this year, it will become a regular activity in October thanks to an ordonnance that I formulated.
- December 19 to 20 is the Youth Camp.
Finally, I would like to add that there are NGOs like CAMELEON and partners of the DSWD who are helping the government to implement the law on child protection. There are also churches which have special programs for children. But I notice that the BCPC does not function well in practice on the Barangay level. That is why I really want to activate the BCPC and make it functional. I already started to make this possible by gathering all Barangay Kagawad (7 in each Barangay) of the Municipality of Passi who handle the Committee of Education to be in a special association in Passi. I will invite the CAMELEON staff in charge of the Advocacy program to attend this event to encourage my fellow Kagawad to help our Barangay Captain to make the BCPC fully functional in all Barangay of Passi!
That is one of my missions as one of the Barangay Kagawad.”
For his commitment, CAMELEON officially thanks him and encourages him to continue his actions. To help him, CAMELEON offered a cell phone, projector, and a white screen to support all his actions for the children.
This successful story motivates the CAMELEON staff in charge of Advocacy to expand its actions in order to better prevent the sexual and general abuse of children and to continue to make authorities and the general public of the region aware of these problems.