Strict young teacher, playful little student

Sitting on the floor covered with blue mat, sisters Jasmine and Julia are reading a story from a book that World Vision gave previously.

Jasmine, 10, teaches her younger sister, Julia, 7, how to read the storybooks that World Vision provided.

“Si-la-ay-lu-ma-kad-na…” can heard from Jasmine, 10.

“Si-la-ay-lu-ma-kad-na…” her sister, Julia, 7, imitates then scratches her head because she couldn’t read the next word.

Their mother, Elna, 47, has been watching her daughters. “Julia would oftentimes listen to her sisters’ classes, joining them as if she could understand what her older sisters’ lessons are all about,” Elna shares. Her other child, Carmen, 13, was playing outside at the time of the interview.

“Carmen is smart. She receives lots of awards. Jasmine, on the other hand, is ok. She used to have awards but since the pandemic, her grades were not that high as before. Probably because I couldn’t explain to her more her lessons,” Elna says.

Siblings (L-R) Carmen, 13, Jasmine, 10, and Julia, 7, with their mother, Elna, 47. Elna wishes that her children would finish their education and have a degree, something she failed to obtain due to poverty.

The mother of three admits that she didn’t finish her education due to poverty, and wishes that her children wouldn’t follow in her footsteps. “I am happy whenever I hear them studying and more so when I see that their grades are good. No failing marks.”

Like other families living in the urban communities of Manila, Elna and her husband, Francis, 43, are trying to make both ends meet. Francis, who suffered a major leg injury in 2002, is working in a warehouse company earning Php10,000 a month. With three children to feed and bills to pay, Elna has to help by doing direct selling. She says, she has not yet earned from the products she’s selling because she’s just starting.

The family has been part of World Vision’s sponsorship program for seven years now. Recently, the family received school support through the Abutin Na10 campaign between World Vision and the Department of Education. Abutin Na10 campaign promotes a culture of reading and improve functional literacy among children.

“World Vision helps us in so many ways. We’ve received many assistance from the organization like Noche Buena pack, school supplies. Last year, when we were all couldn’t go out because of COVID-19 lockdown, we received vegetables, which was what we really needed since we couldn’t go to the market. Lately, World Vision staff would remind us again and again on COVID-19, even giving us hygiene kits and vitamins. Me and my husband appreciate this assistance that World Vision provides for us,” Elna shares.

Julia’s voice can still be heard reading while her mother chats with a World Vision staff. “She reads slow so I usually help her to read. But sometimes, Ate Carmen helps because I have classes,” Jasmine shares.

Jasmine says she doesn’t mind reading with her younger sister. “It’s fun but sometimes she can be annoying. She wouldn’t listen to me…” Jasmine admits.

“Because you’re strict,” Julia cuts.

“I am not,” Jasmine quips.

“Yes, you are,” Julia replies

“Stop arguing, you two,” their mother, hearing the girls, says. Both girls continues reading.

After their reading session, Jasmine logs in to her online class while Julia goes outside to play, still holding the books she was reading a while ago. “I love colorful books!” she says showing the storybooks. “Soon, I will read fast.”

“Would you read a story to your mother?” We asked her.

“Hmmm, yes, when she goes to sleep,” Julia replies shyly. Elna laughs.

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