A fire in the poor urban district of Pandacan destroyed the homes of over 50 families. Many children had to stop going to school and start working in order to survive. One of them was 12-year-old Dane Padel.
Thanks to a grant from Cecilia’s child rights club in Pandacan. Dane and other children who have been saved from having to work are now fighting for children’s rights!
“We do street theatre to warn children and adults about traffickers,” says Dane. He and his friends have also made their own t-shirts as part of their campaign against trafficking. Dane has written ‘Stop the abuses’ on his t-shirt.
Maricar, 13, also loves Cecilia’s child rights club. Every day after school she meets her friends and they rehearse their anti-trafficking play. Maricar and her family don’t have their own house, just a narrow bench and a wardrobe on one of the narrow alleys in the poor area of Pandacan. Her parents sleep on the bench. Maricar and her brother usually sleep on the floor in relatives’ houses.
”One day I hope we’ll have a home of our own,” she says. “I’d love a pretty little house with four rooms.” Maricar used to have to help her family by working, but now the child rights club helps her pay her school fees. “My favourite thing is the drama group. We learn to dance too. We act out stories about trafficking. In one scene I play a maid who is abused by her employer and goes to the police.”
Maricar has learned a lot about trafficking and the rights of the child. She raises awareness among everyone she meets: family, neighbours and schoolmates. “I say: ‘Don’t be blind, look around you. If you see something suspicious, don’t be passive, do something!’ My mother was shocked at many of the things I told her. For example, that organised crime exists and that people buy and sell children. If traffickers try to recruit me I’ll report them to the police. If they try to kidnap me I’ll escape. I’m good at fighting!” When Maricar hears that a trafficker has been given a jail sentence it makes her happy.
“But it doesn’t happen very often“
Text: Carmilla Floyd
Photos: Kim Naylor