Two hours away from the city proper, in the midst of the wide rice fields stands a humble community that gives primary importance to children’s rights in Iloilo. Through the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation’s Learning Resource Center (LRC), children in Brgy. Mostro, Anilao, Iloilo are able to find their space for learning, and now for play, with the opening of the Toy Library.
Brgy. Mostro has been identified to have a high incidence of child labor in Iloilo, among other barangays such as Brgy. De La Paz in Banate, and Brgy. Vista Alegre in Barotac Viejo, by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). As part of ABK3 LEAP (Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy & Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane Areas), ERDA supports the education of the children in sugarcane areas to keep them away from working in the tubuhan. ERDA’s LRC in Brgy. Mostro serves as the venue where children can keep themselves busy, and not in the tubuhan.
Now, through the LRC program, most children are able to go back to school. Barangay Children’s Association (BCA) leader and ERDA scholar Jazmel Divino, 15 years old, expresses his delight at the opening of the Toy Library in Mostrol. “Sobrang saya po namin ngayon na may Toy Library na kami dahil iyong mga pangarap naming gawin para sa community ay matutupad na,” (We are very happy now that we have a Toy Library because our dreams for the community will come true) muses Jazmel. Aside from the existing activities they are already doing for Brgy. Mostrol such as storytelling and arts & crafts programs, Jazmel wants to explore more possibilities to involve the whole community in taking care of their children.
Philippine Toy Library
From a Facebook status, a national advocacy was born. The Philippine Toy Library (PTL) is made up of volunteer-friends who hope to provide the experience of play to our Filipino children, especially those who live in cramped and congested areas. Idle spaces in barangays, schools or parishes are turned into fun and educational PTL areas to keep kids off the streets. Currently, PTL has 105 sites and more are being put up, to bring joy to the next generation of Filipinos.
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