Derick's Story

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 children.

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.
Continue Derick's story