Birang (18) lives in Cagbuhangin, a municipality of Ormoc City in the Philippines. She is the fourth of seven children. Her parents earned their money by working on a sugar cane plantation. Birang was ten years old when her father ended up in prison. Her mother’s income was insufficient to buy food for the family and so Birang and her siblings were forced to help out on the plantation. As a result Birang could hardly ever attend school.
In between work on the plantation, Birang received education through Terre des Hommes’ partner ECLIPSE. She was noticed by ECLIPSE’s social workers who encouraged her to stand as candidate for youth representative. And so she did and she was elected as representative of her municipality. In her capacity of youth representative she could represent all the children in her municipality in a national anti-poverty commission. She also got her own radio programme with one of Ormoc City’s radio stations in which she informed her young listeners about children’s rights.
Although her term as youth representative has expired, Birang is still committed to children’s rights. She is a sought-after speaker on children’s rights and the prevention of child labour. By now she has attended many important events and met important people like former president Benigno Aquino III and Senator Grace Poe. She also attends a bachelor’s programme on social work at the university. It is her ambition to help less well-off children once she has finished her studies. Just like ECLIPSE’s social workers helped her and other children in her neighbourhood.
"The support, confidence and meetings of ECLIPSE’s social workers, have made me the person I am today. I am so grateful to everyone who encourages and motivates me and who believes I can do it. In spite of the challenges that I and my family have had to endure”, says Birang.
Birang’s story is not unique. Poverty forces many children in Asia to quit school and start working. They are often forced to perform exhaustive and hard labour under unhealthy and dangerous circumstances. Together with local partners, Terre des Hommes puts an end to the worst forms of child labour in Asia. We help children to go back to school and offer vocational training and medical support. We also lobby governments to better protect children’s rights.
Children who are victims of exploitation, need protection and assistance. Together with our partners and sponsors we stop child exploitation. We were able to help Birang and she was able to go back to school. Now let's save the others. Will you help us?