Human trafficking is making modern-day slaves
out of millions of vulnerable children. Derick is
a young Filipino boy whose childhood was cut
short when he was forced into working as
a child laborer. This is his story.*
My name is Derick. I’m 14 years old. I live in the Davao del Sur province in the Philippines.
I used to love playing hide-and-seek with my friends in the huge sugar cane fields that are
everywhere in our province. The tall plants in the fields were a perfect hiding place.
But when I was 10, my carefree days ended. My parents told me I needed to start working
to pay for school. I was shocked. I thought adults were supposed to work for a living, not
The next day I was sent into the sugar cane fields that used to be my playground. I was
handed a large, sharp machete. By the time I was allowed to go home, I had toiled under
the hot sun for more than eight hours, cutting grass that was taller than me.
From that day on, I had to miss the first two days of school each week to work in the
sugar cane fields. I had to harvest 300 pieces of sugarcane to earn about $2. The
job was difficult, and it left me exhausted for the rest of the week.
School became much too hard. I was too tired to study or concentrate in class. And I
was sad, too. I started avoiding my friends, who couldn’t understand the way my life
had changed. When I thought about other children who still enjoyed playing together,
I often cried.
I wondered if my childhood was over. And what about the future? Without an education,
I might have to work in the sugar cane fields for the rest of my life.