It has been almost a year since the establishment of the Arise Philippines Office in Dagupan, Philippines, and the subsequent launch of our Philippines campaign. Reports from our frontline network led us to focus on online child sexual abuse and exploitation (OSAEC) and labour trafficking in the wake of the pandemic - what drives them and how networks might address them as part of the broader slavery landscape.
Stringent COVID-19 restrictions have posed a threat to our momentum, but thanks to our local staff member Sr Cecilia Espenilla OP and our blossoming local network, we move into the closing months of 2021 with exciting progress to report.
1) Arise has supported the development of a powerful online ethical recruitment tool, Work-Skills Connect, by formidable frontline group Voice of the Free
With over 600,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) repatriated during COVID-19 and millions of dollars in remittances lost, traffickers are capitalising on growing vulnerability. The Work-Skills Connect tool responds to this directly, harnessing technology to prevent labour trafficking from the context of lockdown.
So far, 1,519 job seekers and 41 agencies and employers have registered to the Work-Skills Connect online platform, and financial assistance for job requirements has been provided to 50 job seekers. An orientation programme was conducted across the province of Negros Occidental to reach displaced OFWs, also distributing food parcels for supplementary relief.
2) Arise has launched its very own project Antabay Buhay in Dagupan
This community-based project is led by Sr Cecilia in collaboration with the Caritas office of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The project is threefold, providing the following anti-trafficking programmes for its two-year duration: 1) livelihood support for identified high-risk families; 2) safe employment/ recruitment services through the Work-Skills Connect programme; 3) youth awareness and empowerment in partnership with iFight.
‘Antabay Buhay aims to create a community that supports one another. We aim to promote the value of industry - that there is dignity in work - and to enhance the value of the rights and dignity of every human being. We are looking forward to seeing the Antabay Buhay community rise from poverty and stand on their own, moving forward with great hope for the future.’ - Sr Cecilia Espenilla
3) Arise is supporting local children’s NGO PCMN in their creation and coordination of youth-led interventions against child sex trafficking
Youth For Safety Against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (Y4S Against OSAEC) is a 12-month project supported by Arise. It aims to mobilise the youth and build their capacity to become advocates for child protection in their communities. The project, which includes a formalised youth organisation with trainings, partnerships, policy goals and summits, has been rolled out in three cities of Samar and Negros islands.
4) Arise is working with community-focused NGO Bidlisiw Foundation on the roll out of their Peer Support Groups for high-risk youth
Through this two-year project, Bidisliw is responding to the high vulnerability to trafficking of the youth in Cebu and Iloilo City. The Peer Support Groups will reach hundreds of children, helping to harness the power of the youth against an issue affecting them and their peers. The Groups aim to instill awareness and agency and provide opportunities for children to report cases of abuse.
5) Arise continues to strengthen our Philippines anti-slavery network
This network has developed to include local government, NGOs, civil society groups, religious congregations and dioceses, public and private training institutes, and women's movements. These groups will continue to inform and inspire our work in the years to come, towards our vision of preventing slavery through local wisdom, agency and action.
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