Inspo alert! This former child laborer is now leading the fight to end it

Former child laborer Steven Villamora of Davao Occidental gives back by helping the government fight child labor.

As a former child laborer, Steven Villamora could have left his old life behind after finishing his studies and passing the licensure examination for teachers.

Instead of moving on, he opted to return and support the government’s effort to eradicate child labor by joining the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“They helped me and my family overcome adversities and thrive during hard times. In return, I commit to be an ally of the Department in promoting its campaign to achieve a child-labor-free Philippines,” said Steven.

Growing up in Barangay Poblacion in Malita, Davao Occidental, Steven’s childhood was marked by one hardship after another, according to the DOLE on its website. His father died of lung cancer, and his mother battled illness and underwent a difficult recovery.

This left Steven with no choice but to take on more responsibilities as the caregiver and the sole provider for the family. At 10, he tried many hustles to put food on the table: he sold fish, aided fishermen in hoisting their boats, and worked as a store attendant in a rice retailing shop.

His situation led to him being identified as a child laborer in his community during the profiling activity of DOLE’s CLPEP back in 2019.

Through the program, Steven earned a degree in Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Science at the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) in 2023.

He also successfully passed the licensure examination for teachers as well as the civil service examination.

Currently, he serves as an intern of the CLPEP Team of DOLE in Davao Occidental, where his duties include validating monitoring forms of child laborers, updating the database, and attending to walk-in clients, especially child laborers and their families.

Steven said he hoped to inspire those who were like him to overcome their situation. “I hope to inspire other child laborers that despite the unfavorable situation life may give, there’s always a way for us to surpass and break the chain of poverty,” he said.