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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Philippines: ‘Don’t Worry Because I Will Study Well’

In Mindanao, a part of the Philippines where up to 40% of the population is living on $317 dollars a year - yet a kilo of rice still costs about $0.70 - serious poverty is the norm.

Here, as in the rest of the optimistically labelled ‘developing’ world, poor families frequently cite education as their greatest dream, the element that could change everything for the generations to come. Yet, if you’ve got to find out how to keep 5-8 people from starving when a kilo of rice costs 70% of your daily income, school fees are not in the cards.

Finding creative ways for the poorest children in the world to attend school is something HOPE International Development Agency devotes itself to. If our mandate is to see families make a permanent break with poverty, then investment into education is an obvious stratagem.

A number of Canadians are currently helping young Filipino students at the primary, secondary, and university levels to fulfill the dreams of their families. It is an incredible arrangement. The letters we read from these young scholars always reconfirm our basic intentions. These are children who work hard, and will enrich their families and communities with the advantages an education affords them. One theme is constant in the letters: I will make good on your investment into me. One fourteen-year old girl writes:

‘Before anything else I would like to greet you a pleasant day. Thank you for the support that you give, I can now able to proceed my study. Sometimes I can absent in school because sometimes we lack of food in our home. My parents work hard for my study; don’t worry because I will study well for you and for my family.’

Because we know how serious and frequent the reality of ‘lack of food’ is for girls like her, the energy she pours into her studies commands our respect and support all the more.

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