In the column Help/Assistance a child and an aid worker from one of Terre des Hommes' programmes have their say. This time it's the story of Arvin from the Philippines. 'Friends' in the street pressurised him into doing sex work for money. Until he met aid worker Ruth. Read about how she helped him escape from the sex industry.
Arvin: "I grew up in the slums with seven siblings. My parents have a minimarket at home, but the income it generates, is not enough to support our family. It was not an easy childhood.
When I am at the training centre with other children and the coaches, I feel safe and right at
Arvin (14) from The Philippines
When I was 12 years old, my 'friends' in the street pressurised me into doing sex work. I used loiter in the street late at night, where men asked me to have sex with them for money. At first I was a bit confused about what happened. But I thought: I need this money, because my
family is very poor.
Now my life has changed. I left the sex industry and go to a training centre, where they teach me how to relate to others and where I can rebuild my self-confidence. I'm learning how to use computers and I also participate in sports a lot. On a regular basis I play basketball with the other children in the afternoon. Once a week I have a one-to- one conversation with my coach. When I am with her or with the other children, I feel safe and right at home. I want to become a computer expert when I grow up."
Ruth: "When I participated in local aid activities, in the evenings I used to go to certain places in Cebu where young boys and girls loiter. I used to talk to them and found out their stories. Arvin was one of them. He tried to hide behind other children so he wouldn't have to speak to me. He looked very thin and scared.
The next day I went to the same area and again I saw Arvin. That time I managed to speak with him. His parents are poor, he has seven siblings and all of them live in a small house in the slums. I then knew he was in the street to make money.
I gained Arvin's trust and he agreed to take me to his home the following day. I spoke to his parents there, who knew nothing about the things Arvin was doing. They only knew he was out in the streets with his friends until late. For me the challenge is to make Arvin communicate more and to stimulate him to trust the people who really care about him.
I help Arvin integrate back into society. He attends training sessions in the training centre every morning. He is taught about contraception, and about the rights of children. He also participates in therapeutic activities, where, among other things, he can express his emotions by writing about them. Sometimes the activities are in groups, as a result of which he can connect to other children. After that I coach him one-on- one, which is a session in which we openly speak about what has happened.
Dealing with children, especially if they are teenagers, is challenging, but I am very happy that I came into Arvin's life on time, and that he feels comfortable around me. He is back on track now and has more hope for his future."
Children who are vulnerable of exploitation, need protection and support. Together with partner organisations and our donors, we provide shelter, care and education. Arvin received help and is in training again. Now let's save the others. Will you help us?