THE people behind the ABK3 Leap Project of the World Vision Development Foundation Inc. urged officials of local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental to sustain the gains of the almost five-year initiative which will end this month.

The ABK3 Leap: Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection Project, which targets to reduce child labor in sugarcane areas in the country, including Negros Occidental, started in November 2011.

ABK3 Leap project director Daphne Culanag, who led the “Sharing of ABK3 Leap’s Good Practices” at the L’ Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City Friday, said that after four and a half years of implementation, the project reduced hazardous child labor by 86 percent, one percent higher than the target.

The group’s records showed that 54,479 children and 30,412 households across 11 sugar-producing provinces directly benefited from the project.

Of these children-beneficiaries, at least 21, 000 are in Negros Occidental, it added.

Culanag said they are very happy that currently, there are communities in Negros Occidental continuing the initiatives started by the ABK3 Leap.

She added that the Provincial Council for the Rights and Welfare of Children Council, during its meeting Thursday, allocated P100,000 for the continuation of the child monitoring system in the province.

It also adopted a resolution requiring the remaining 18 LGUs, which are not yet covered by ABK3 Leap Project, to have their own child monitoring systems.

“We are really hopeful that as we go out, what we have planted will continue to grow and serve its purpose,” Culanag said, stressing that local government officials have a huge role in its realization.

Moreover, six good practice themes of the ABK3 Leap Project were highlighted in yesterday’s sharing, the last activity of the group for Negros Occidental.

These include the Catch-up program; Savings Group: a platform for livelihood sustainability; Teacher Advocates Against Child Labor; Community Volunteerism; Engaging LGUs to Combat child labor; and Engaging the Sugar Industry: a sustainable approach to child-labor free farms.

Two beneficiaries for each of the six good practices themes shared their testimonies on how the project helped their communities.

Sol Grace Timola, 39, of Barangay Tiling in Cauayan town, principal of Bulwangan National High School in Hinoba-an, is one of the beneficiaries of the project particularly through the Teacher Advocates Against Child Labor program.

Timola, who was a classroom teacher when she became a recipient of the project in 2008, said the program has provided her the necessary trainings that opened her mind to reach out to children in their school who need help.