Spotlight on Lingap Pangkabataan:
Rehabilitating a Child Domestic Laborer
Lingap Pangkabataan is a church-related organization in the Philippines with 25 years of experience in leading child advocacy efforts, generating resources to promote community self-reliance, and implementing community development programs largely through a network of volunteers and partners.

In June 2004, it began targeting a vulnerable sector of child laborers: child domestic laborers, through its partnership with the Philippine Children’s Ministries Network. Research done on this sector revealed that domestic servants suffered from isolation, hidden exploitation, low self-esteem, and poor educational access and performance. Through the CIRCLE project, Lingap expanded its project for child domestic laborers in selected communities in Quezon City, targeting 100 child domestic laborers with improved access and support to education and organizing child domestic workers to serve as their peer support system.

Philippines. V* was referred by her teacher to Lingap in May 2005. Her teacher, Ms. Vargas, had attended the CIRCLE project orientation and had spoke to her students and other teachers about the importance of identifying child domestics in need of protection and education. V had been abandoned by her mother early on and had been under the care of her grandmother. When she was 13 years old, her grandmother brought her to Manila to live with an aunt. The aunt treated V like a household helper, and gave her a heavy load of chores for her age: taking care of 4 children, cleaning the house, washing and ironing clothes, and cooking. Although her aunt sent her to school, she did not support V’s other school needs. Oftentimes V slept in the living room, overworked and tired from the day’s work.

Lingap supported V’s wish to continue schooling despite her difficult work situation. She was provided school supplies, a complete set of workbooks, payment for school projects and school shoes. During counseling, V decided to leave her aunt’s home. Lingap mobilized support from volunteer pastors in the community who assist in identifying child domestics. With the assistance of local officials, Lingap and volunteer pastors sheltered V in the church.

It was clear that her aunt did not understand the concept of child rights, or how to support V’s education. Lingap and local officials have tried to sensitize the aunt about harmful work and have described the negative effects of V’s home and work situation to her overall development.

In the meantime, the pastors provided psychosocial counseling to V while awaiting further assistance from the Social Services Development Department of Quezon City. V is slowly recovering from her experience. She is actively engaged in activities that will help her reintegration, like using the computer at the Lingap office to do her school projects.

V also has been reaching out to others in her situation. Having now been trained on the computer, she helps other child domestic laborers to meet their academic requirements. She has joined the Lingap Children’s Association and is recognized as alternate representative of the child domestic laborers group. She performed well in the recent theater presentation in school and according to the church pastor, actively participates in church activities for the youth.

Lingap, together with the volunteers pastors, plans to continue counseling sessions for V’s aunt and uncle as well as prepare V to reunite with them, if feasible. If such occurs, Lingap and the pastors will be on hand to monitor her home and work conditions, to ensure that agreements with her aunt and uncle are observed, especially pertaining to work hours and of her rights.

V, happy to be in secondary school again after her rescue
* Initials have been used to protect the child's anonymity