Turning passion into profit amid COVID-19

Adjusting to the new normal is not easy for many, including the youth.

World Vision sponsored child Lester, 18, is one of the millions of young people whose daily routine was disrupted. Since the pandemic started, he couldn’t stop worrying about his mother who is a domestic helper in the Middle East. Their source of income was also threatened by the imposed quarantine that affected his father’s work as a driver.

“The first two months of the pandemic were a blur. My father lost his job and the news about OFWs’ getting infected was stressing us out in the family,” he shares.

Open up, acknowledge your fears

Knowing that the impact of COVID could last longer than he wants, Lester made a decision to help himself and his family cope with the pandemic.

I remember how I was thought about the importance of seeking help if needed and to not keep everything to myself, including fears. I started to open up – to trusted friends and also my family,” he recalls. That was the start he needed.

Lester is a World Vision-trained facilitator of spiritual nurture for children. He’s been trained to facilitate activities that give children and youth a safe space to know themselves better – their strengths, fears, weaknesses and even their hopes. Prior COVID-19, he would mentor young people in his community and would work alongside parents for initiatives such as free weekend tutorials.

“The things I learned from all the training I had came handy. I took a deep breath and gave myself the time to acknowledge the situation we are in and also the emotions I had,” he shares.

Lester sees to it that he makes time to check on his mother who he knows is also worried about them. He looks after his younger siblings. He is the second among four.

When the restrictions started to ease up in his community, he and friends decided to venture on a business that would help them and their families cope financially.

The first question he asked himself – What am I passionate about and how can I make the most out of it?

The start of food business

Such question gave birth to his food hub where he and friends sell different snacks, including burgers, fries, fruit shake and more.

“When I was in senior high, I learned about business management and accounting. That’s when I learned about managing money and getting insights about putting up a business. I was hooked and I thought that if given a chance, I’d like to have a business of my own. And here it is now,” he smiles

The business started in early September but their weekly sale would already reach at least Php 5,000 in barely a week. Instead of being overcome by his fears, Lester uses his time to improve his food hub.

“We’re getting more and more customers. This is also giving my father an alternative work,” he shares.

Lester is now a first year college student taking up Computer Engineering. On October 10, his class will officially start. Although he won’t have face-to-face classes, he knows the demands of his course so he is thinking of ways to balance both his business and his studies.

“I am glad that my father is around to help us with the food hub. I intend to grow this business while I finish my studies.”

Lester also hopes that when the pandemic is over, his food hub will be a safe place where the young people he used to mentor can find him, talk to him and confide in him face-to-face.

Photos from Romar de Jesus