Carl is a leader of the Agent of Change for Children and Teens (ACT) group in the Philippines. His group is supported by FORGE, a Terre des Hommes Netherlands partner in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. His desire to support his peers have helped him personally transform into a prominent advocate for children’s rights.
When he was younger, Carl was at risk of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). Carl’s village became a source of online sexual abuse materials of children and OSEC cases, with most children involved being friends with him. In response to these rising concerns, the Down to Zero programme provided psychosocial support, social services, education, and other forms of assistance to many children such as Carl through FORGE’s activity centre.
Carl stood out among the children becoming involved in the organisation’s activities. In the beginning, he was not confident in taking part and contributing to discussions until he was encouraged by a social worker.
Despite naturally being an introvert, he was enlightened by the life lessons he learned and eventually unfolded his potential. He discovered that he is a good correspondent and that he has the ability to influence people with his words. This talent and skills he learned contributed to the online retail business of his mother, which was essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and making their home safe through purchase of fences.
There had been rising cases of domestic abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines as the country transitions to the ‘new normal’ with community quarantines that restricts or inhibits most of the regular activities and operations. As to comply with the safety protocol established by the government, organisations such as FORGE are using online platforms such as Facebook Groups, Messenger, and Google Meet to deliver basic social services and monitoring children-at-risk of harm and abuse.
To spread messages of awareness and knowledge of these issues with communities, agents of change such as Carl take the lead. He was selected as a representative in the Down to Zero Children Summit to represent FORGE, which was held online in October 2020. He was asked to make a presentation, where he led his peers to share their ideas.
Carl said, “I got so nervous but was confident that I could do it because of my preparation and the support from my peers and “Ate’s” (big sisters). I was relieved and glad that I did it”.
Despite the closure of the Down to Zero programme, updates from Carl’s initiatives are still being provided to FORGE and Terre des Hommes Netherlands due to their achievements.
Carl is currently enrolled in one of the universities in Cebu, taking up Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering online until the pandemic eases down restrictions. Carl wants to become an engineer with a stable job to support his family. He also wants to establish a business to sustain a living and provide the needs of his family and future family.