MANILA - Every year on October 11, the United Nations marks International Day of the Girl, bringing attention to the needs of girls all over the world and the unique challenges they face that makes it harder for them to achieve their full potential.
This year, the plea is even more urgent as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased young girls’ risks to abuse.
According to World Vision Development Foundation, the Philippine arm of the global child-focused humanitarian organization: “As governments require people to stay home and close schools and public spaces to contain the disease, children face increased risks of psychological distress, violence, neglect, and social exclusion. To some, home may not be a safe place when they are locked down with their abusers.”
Last month, World Vision launched #GirlsCan, a campaign inviting individuals and companies to sponsor girls for P750 monthly, or P9,000 for a year and become a part of rewriting the stories of thousands of girls from poor communities across the country. Their goal is to gain support for at least 1000 girls.
“As the entire world currently face an enormous challenge in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must keep to heart that a lot of young girls are in difficult situations and need our help. Together, we can ensure that children will continue to be educated, healthy, protected, and cared for so that they will be empowered to have a better future”, said Rommel Fuerte, World Vision’s National Director.
Can P750 for a whole month make a difference? In the hands of World Vision, it can and it has. When a child is sponsored, World Vision begins to cast a goodwill net around the beneficiary, one that covers education, health and nutrition, livelihood and child protection.
Basic education supplies are provided to supplement blended learning for the sponsored girls. In addition, World Vision works not only with the children but with families, community members, the local and national government, even private partners to provide better facilities and programs that would allow for better access to education.
Once sponsored, a child gains access to projects that ensure her family eats nutritious food, can have clean water, enjoy quality health services, and are well-informed about infectious diseases. This is even more critical in the midst of the ongoing global health crisis.
So no one gets left behind, the family receives livelihood assistance, providing them tools so that they earn a living. The parents are taught financial literacy and the importance of savings and for later, the value of investments.
World Vision is also committed to ensure children are protected from any form of harm and abuse. Children are informed of their rights, and community members are trained to provide timely and appropriate response to identified child abuse cases.
Through #GirlsCan, World Vision hopes to launch a movement to empower vulnerable girls. It may be a tall order, but Angel, Crystal and Jumila give us hope it can be done.
Seventeen-year old Angel is a student leader and along with other student leaders in her school, they attended a Child Labor Trafficking seminar conducted by World Vision. As the elected student leader, Angel uses her learnings to advocate against child labor in the campus. “I witness child labor every day, and now I want to make a difference.”
Nine-year old Crystal is grateful to be a World Vision sponsored child. World Vision has been present in Crystal's municipality since 2012, working closely with the local government, schools, and most especially, the community members. The partnership has resulted in construction of reading hubs, water systems, toilet and handwashing facilities, and life-skill trainings which can benefit Crystal and her community. “Some children in our school still find it hard to read. I want to teach when I grow older so that no child in our community will be unable to read.”
Fifteen-year old Jumila is a former out-of-school youth. In her village, more than 70% of youth are not in school. She is now among the 60 scholars of The Barkadahan Project which links youth to appropriate government agencies that can give them the right training, skills and knowledge before they go back to the regular school system. “I was happy when I was chosen to be a Barkadahan scholar. It's like an achievement. Finally, I can continue going to school.”
Girls like Angel, Crystal and Jumila are meant to thrive and lead. With your help, these #GirlsCan and the 997 more waiting in the wings for timely help to come.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.