KIBUAYA, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur –  For two years now the Kibuaya ABK2 Initiative Parent Association (Kaicopa) has continually sustained their annual Project Angel Tree.

Project Angel Tree is an activity under the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program which aims to build a community of sponsors or benefactors referred to as “angels” who are committed and supportive in providing social services such as food, clothing, educational assistance, and even work and training opportunities to children at risk to become child laborers and their families.

The event was held last June 9, 2016 at Barangay Kibuaya in Hagonoy just a week before the school begins.

But unlike the typical “angels,” the project in the barangay for the school children is mainly from the efforts of the association of parents of child laborers and children at risk of becoming child laborers: Kaicopa.

150 school children benefited from their Project Angel Tree which was participated by DOLE XI Regional Director Joffrey M. Suyao, DOLE-Davao del Sur Field Office Chief Henry O. Montilla and Hagonoy Municipal Mayor Retired General Franco Magno Calida.

In 2012 Kaicopa, a parent association of then 43 members, was a beneficiary of a consumer store livelihood project of DOLE amounting to P385,000. Following the success of their business, they began to generate and allocate some of their funds for the annual project in 2014.

Kibuaya Barangay Captain Virginia C. Tobiano, in a message, proudly reported that Kaicopa’s annual profit is now at around P3 million allowing them not only to serve as “Angels” before the school year but also provide high school and college scholarships thus, maintaining their child-labor free environment.

Director Suyao in his message, commended the barangay and Kaicopa for how they have manage to sustain and improve the assistance given to them by the department.

“Dili mabuhi ang atong mga proyekto ug wala kamoy mga supporta, mao na sa tanan ninyong supporta nagapadayon ang atong mga proyekto sama sa pagsupporta sa atong mga kabataan aron dili sila mahimong mga child laborer ug magapadayon ang ilang pag-eskwela (Our projects will not survive without your support, that is why with your unending support our project together with our goal to eliminate child-labor and prioritizing education continues),” Director Suyao said.

“Kami sa Department of Labor and Employment kauban sa mga taga Davao del Sur Field Office dako kaayo ang pasalamat kay nasubaybayan gyud namo ang inyong pag-lambo (We in the Department of Labor and Employment together with the Davao del Sur Field Office are very thankful because we have witnessed your success),” he added.

One of the student beneficiary, Rhea Mae N. Calasara, an incoming 4th year student of University of Mindanao taking up Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Marketing Management,  said that she is very thankful to all who help her continue going to school.

“Daghan kaayog salamat, kini dako kaayo ug tabang sa amoa samot na sa akong pag-eskwela (Thank you very much, this is a big help to us especially to my schooling),” Calasara said.

She also advised her fellow students to give importance to education.

“Dapat nato tan-awon na ang edukasyon nga importante kaayo sa atoa kay kini usa ka gasa na bisag kinsa walay mukuha ani, mao ni ang pinaka nindot nga butang na gipamana sa atong mga ginikanan sa atoa busa ato kining ampingan ug palambuon (We should view education as important because this is one treasure that no one can take away from us; this is a very beautiful thing that our parents can give us that is why we need to take care of this and improve on this),” she said addressing it to her fellow students.

After the giving of the school supplies, Kaicopa also gave away certificate of scholarship to 29 high school scholars and three college scholars.

Moreover, other than June being the back to school season, the series of activities is also in line with the celebration of the World Day Against Child Labor which is observed annually every June 12. This year’s celebration centered on the theme: “End child-labor in supply chains. It’s everyone’s business!”

Kriztja Marae G. Labrador/LCO-DOLEXI