Giving Hope by Teaching

Story and photos by Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Content Associate

Genn Bacalso is a graduate of OneChild’s program in the Philippines. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher through God’s grace — and the love and financial support of her sponsor. But her journey wasn’t always easy.

Genn Bacalso enjoys working as a teacher at a home for girls who have been rescued from abuse.

Genn Bacalso, 26, is a petite young lady with a sweet smile. Her voice is soft but confident. She teaches at the Happy Horizon’s Academy, a school within Happy Horizon Children’s Ranch, a nonprofit shelter for trafficked, abused, and abandoned girls in Cebu, Philippines. The ranch is also a partner of OneChild.

Genn knows what these girls are going through. Many girls in the home are there because they were rescued from sex trafficking. The home is a highly respected refuge in the community where children living in poverty come to heal after horrific abuse. International Justice Mission and Philippine social services bring girls, who they know will need long-term care, to the home to find hope.

At the home, girls receive counseling, education, vocational training, and other basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing. They are also evaluated academically, and an academic plan is created for each of them that includes setting goals for the future and finishing their K-12 curriculum.

Genn is an important part of these girls’ success. She not only teaches, but she also shares God’s everlasting love with them. Her path to becoming a teacher, however, wasn’t always easy.

Making Forever Friends

Genn lost her father when she was 9, and her mother struggled to provide for Genn and her four siblings by working in a kitchen. When Genn turned 18, her mother died due to a thyroid problem. Living in poverty without parents was an unimaginable, terrifying reality for Genn and her siblings. Fortunately, Genn had been registered into OneChild’s program years earlier, and through it she was able to thrive in her faith, health, education, and community.

Becoming a teacher has been Genn’s dream since she was a child.

OneChild came to Genn’s community by partnering with Happy Horizon Children’s Ranch in 1998. In addition to providing a home to girls who were abused, the ranch also caters to children in the community through a separate program. One of the programs provided for these kids was Vacation Bible School, offered during the summer. When she was 9, Genn attended this Bible school and eventually got registered in OneChild.

“My most memorable experience in OneChild was going swimming and having a Christmas party,” Genn says. She didn’t know that through OneChild she would also make lifelong friends through these social activities.

“I am a homebody. But when I joined OneChild, I got to bond with other kids,” she says. “Now, we are still friends, and I even became the godmother of their children.”

Teachers and workers at Happy Horizon Children’s Ranch have a daily devotional together.

Genn also received vital encouragement and support from her sponsor, Monica Hartman. The letters and support she received still makes a big impact on her life because she knows that she has a friend and someone who is like family on the other side of the world.

“We still talk to each other,” Genn says. “And I am praying for us to see each other.”

Genn is also thankful that she was able to finish school with the help of her sponsor. Even after she graduated from the program in 2011, her sponsor continued to support her in college so she could become a teacher.

A Dream Come True

Genn’s dream was to become a teacher. She remembered writing it in her notebook when she was in second grade.

In addition to being a teacher, Genn also gives love, care, guidance to the girls at the Happy Horizon Children’s Ranch.

Genn says she chose to teach at the ranch because she felt it was God’s calling for her. The most important thing that happened to her while in the program, she says, was knowing God. She is thankful that her spiritual life grew.

“OneChild is God’s instrument to change lives,” she says. “Praise be to God that I am still in my faith.”

Genn knows that her presence in the girls’ lives is important since they are far from their families and they need love, care, and, most important, hope for a brighter future.

“I pray that they will bring with them what they learned and share the Word of God with others when they go out.” Genn says.  “I pray that their faith will stay with them.”

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