Wednesday, April 5, 2017

World Vision @ 60: Launches the Campaign to Stop Online Sexual Abuse of Children in the Philippines

The online sexual abuse of children in the country is a societal problem that has crept its way into the lives of innocent youngsters from poor communities for more than a decade. While the present government concentrates all its efforts and tax payers’ resources in the so called “war on drugs” by killing everyone involved (mostly poor people), other issues like poverty and high unemployment rate remained untouched and unsolved.  

Serving the organization was one of the best nine years of my life...
The brave heart of Ofelia:
I was part of World Vision Philippines for nine years and personally witnessed how real these online sexual exploitations happen even in the some of the organization’s assisted communities. Back then, I was in charge of mass fundraising where I train and supervise WV staff on how to encourage others to sponsor poor children. In many instances, my department hired former sponsored children themselves as WV field reps, as they have proven to be a very effective in persuading people to donate because their testimonies are proofs that the program really works. 

A WV Child Sponsorship display...
Among the dozens of field reps I supervised, there was a particular girl who was very memorable and remarkable at the same time. Ofelia (not her real name) was from one of WV’s project communities in Roxas, Palawan. She was hired as a field rep and was assigned to one of the malls in Metro Manila. As front liners of WV, there were many occasions where we get to go to other places to promote Child Sponsorship.  Little did we know that Ofelia had another reason why she applied for work at WV. 

WV Child sponsorship Field Reps in CDO mall.
On one occasion, our team went to Clark Field Pampangga and spent a few days there for an event. During night time, she would ask permission to visit a friend who’s living in the city, which was kind of odd and so coincidental for someone who is from Roxas, Palawan and having a close friend who lives in Clark. When I realized she was not telling the whole truth and after a confrontation, we discovered her plans. 

WV Field Reps...
Ofelia's primary reason in volunteering to come with us to Clark was primarily to rescue her close friend who was trafficked from their hometown and forced to work in an “Internet Café.” She also revealed to us the true nature of her friend’s work there and that the so called internet café was just a front of a white slavery cyber-sex den. Upon learning this, I immediately sounded the alarm to the organization and, soon after, World Vision convened for an emergency meeting and organized a rescue committee composed of representatives from WV, DSWD, International Justice Mission, and the Philippine National Police. 

Symbolic gesture of alliance of different organizations for the campaign against Online Sex Exploitation of Children...
The operation was carried out immediately and there were several girls, some of whom were minors, were rescued. These girls underwent psych debriefing carried out by family counselor Dr. Violeta Bautista, who was a board member of World Vision at the time. Later, the girls were sent back to their homes and families. Ofelia, on the other hand, was given recognition for her bravery and compassion in her desire to help her friend. 


"Good morning sir! Would you care to sponsor a child?"
Thankfully, despite being poor, Ofelia did not fall into the same fate as her friend. But sadly, this social problem that has been festering in the lives of innocent children still prevails in many poor communities in our country today. What’s even worse, some parents condone such evil practices in exchange of a brand new tricycle or a videoke machine. 

It will take the world to stop online sex exploitation:

Recently, World Vision celebrates its 60th Anniversary in the Philippines. Over the years, this non-government organization, started by Dr. Robert "Bob" Pierce after the Second World War, grew form a merely funding organization for orphanages in the Philippines to one of the biggest Christian relief and development organizations rendering support to more than 90 countries all over the world through community development and other capacities.

Dr. Pierce holding an orphaned Korean Infant during the Korean War...
As much as there are other places in the world that are more in need of help than the Philippines in terms of poverty alleviation, World Vision recognizes the online sex exploitation problem in our country, which poses serious threat in destroying the lives of young children in many poor communities. In fact, our country ranks 10th in the world when it comes to sexual exploitation of children and it so serious, that one organization like World Vision is not enough in putting a stop to this societal menace that is eating away the brighter futures of young people. 

Online Sex Exploitation of Children is like a silent plague that is slowly eating away the lives of children in poor communities..
That is why, in this campaign, WV forged an alliance with several child-focused international organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Compassion International, Plan International, International Justice Mission, Child Fund, and other national agencies like DSWD to find and pursue a lasting solution to this global problem. 

With Ms. Marilee Pierce-Dunker, daughter of World Vision founder, Dr. Robert Pierce
Pausing to Celebrate and to face new missions:

Sixty years in serving the poorest of the poor is one great achievement for the organization and indeed, merits a celebration. As part of its commemoration, World Vision gathered some of the early WV kids during the 50’s when Dr. Bob Pierce went to the Philippines to help the Good Shepherd Fold Orphanage which was the first recipient of World Vision in 1957 in Guimaras Island. Adding to its nostalgia, the daughter of Dr. Pierce, Ms. Marilee Pierce-Dunker, who is an ambassador for WV, visited the place and spent one whole day of fellowship and worship with some of the first Good Shepherd Fold Orphans.

Bishop Leo Alcongga, one of the early sponsored children of World Vision in Good Shepherd Fold Orphanage
As the organization breaks into a short pause to celebrate of God’s faithfulness in the lives of more than 1.5 million children who have benefited from WV programs, it is also taking a bolder step forward to embrace a new challenge God has entrusted, which is to put a stop to Online Sex Exploitation of children. 

Ms. Marilee Pierce-Dunker with a fellow book author and counselor Merlyn Guillermo, a former WV Sponsored child
If you want to know more regarding this three-year campaign of World Vision and how else you can help and be a part of WV programs, please visit their website: www.worldvision.org.ph, like @wvphilippines on Facebook, or call their hotline numbers: +632 372 7777 and  +632 374 76 18 to 20.

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