Zarraga is about 20-25 minutes from the city of Iloilo, in the southeast of Panay Island. The town of Zarraga has a population of around 27,000 people. The nearby city of Iloilo, home to around half a million people, is growing very rapidly.
Most of the population continues to live off agriculture and fishing. The unemployment rate is very high, and many families live below the national poverty line.
Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Iloilo.
A growing number of children are losing parental care in the area where Iloilo is located. The absence of regular and stable employment means that families cannot meet their needs and those of their children.
Around 53% of households in Iloilo do not have regular access to food. This affects the health of all family members, but children are most at risk.
Many children in the area are also unable to go to school and get an education. This will affect their future lives, unless they are given support so that they can go to school and receive further training.
In 2020, around 31.2 million children were between 5 to 17 years of age in the Philippines. Among them, 872,000 or 2.8% work. The majority of children who worked were aged between 15 and 17 years. They worked in agriculture, services sector and in industry. Work that does not hinder the child from going to school, playing and resting and that serves to improve the child's quality of life is not considered child labour. However, with child labour the opposite is true, and children will work in hazardous environments with long working hours. This child labour deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and is often harmful to physical and mental development.