We followed what a day looks like for 16-year-old Roberto, a OneChild sponsored youth in a remote community in Mindanao, the Philippines. See how, that even in the midst of a hard place and hard times, a child can still thrive and hope for a better future.
Roberto, 16, belongs to a tribe in the Philippines called Tagakaolo. But he and most Tagakaolo people do not wear traditional tribal clothing anymore. Roberto, who lives in poverty, has been a scholar for seven years of VOH (Visions of Hope) Christian School, a OneChild partner in the Philippines.
Roberto is thankful for being accepted as a scholar of VOH, where he learned so much. “Before, I did not know how to read and write. Our teachers taught us to read the Bible,” Roberto says. Reading the Bible in the morning helps him be closer to God so he will keep a positive outlook in life.
“I hope that I will not backslide and will finish my studies,” says Roberto. His prayers always include keeping his faith in God firm so he will not be swayed by life’s struggles. Also, he is always thankful for the opportunity to study with the help of his Child Champions. He dreams of becoming a teacher someday.
Because Roberto’s school is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, he spends most of his time at home helping with chores. He sometimes cooks meals for his family using a firewood stove. This is how people in rural communities usually do their cooking.
In the morning, Roberto makes sure that they have clean water to use in the house. So, he makes a couple of rounds to fetch water from a pitcher pump a few meters from their house. This water is used for cooking, dishwashing, bathing, and the toilet.
One of the advantages of living in a rural community is the opportunity to find crops or plants that are edible. Roberto here is foraging sweet potato leaves, a nutritious food rich in vitamin K, from overgrown sweet potato plants near their house. In the Hope Center, Child Champions ensure that children are given nutritious food to avert child hunger. And this way, children learn to eat healthfully as they grow.
Now that Roberto is a young man, he is expected to help more on the farm like tending farm animals or harvesting sugar cane so he can contribute financially to the family.
“For 30 sticks (of sugar cane), I make 3 pesos,” Roberto says. In a poor rural community like Roberto’s, parents usually bring their child to the farm to help, and because of this, the child misses up to a week of school. The VOH Christian School is a dormitory school for kids like Roberto. The children stay in this school, and they go home twice a month. At the school, they are provided with decent rooms, food, education, and other activities such as music, dance, and sports.
“We really cater to the poorest of the poor who do not have access to education,” says Child Champion Joy Limen. “So, having the children stay in school is a big help to a lot of families here because they will not worry anymore about expenses like daily transportation fare and allowances when going to a regular school.”
But because of the pandemic, when the school closed, the Child Champions made every effort meet the children at their homes and ensure that they continue their education.
Since the school temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Roberto and other children enrolled in VOH Christian School meet in a temporary place in their community. “I miss our memory verses, playing games with friends, and our teachers,” Roberto says.
Teachers meet their students like Roberto at a church under construction while school is closed. For children living in other areas, teachers meet them in their houses.
“Our teachers go to nine areas to meet the students for feeding, sharing God’s Word, and helping them with their modules,” Joy says. In these gatherings, the parents of the children help prepare the food.
“The modules are a bit harder than the face-to-face class, especially for my math and English subjects,” Roberto says of the challenges he faced when the school closed. Thankfully, Child Champions are willing to go the extra mile of visiting each student in their house to help them in their struggles.
“I am thankful for my teachers for encouraging me to focus on my studies,” Roberto says. “It is hard to work and study at the same time.”
Roberto dreams of becoming a teacher despite living in poverty. Aside from helping his own family, he wants to become a Child Champion who helps children have a better future through education.
Give a child living in poverty like Roberto love, encouragement, and hope through sponsorship.
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