The success of a little farm girl
By Lisbet Esmael
World Vision Communications Intern
Finding the road out of poverty, a little farm girl was able to build confidence by the difficulties she faced in achieving her dreams, and with World Vision as a guiding lamp, she now stands tall in the spotlight of her own life.
The tiny feet, which roamed the vast rice field in Cagayan Valley before, are now printing footsteps in the “land of opportunity”.
Those belong to Chona Galletes.
At 22, she was able to attain her dream to study in an American university and to finally lift up her family from poverty. With flying colours, she finished a bachelor’s degree in business management in Brigham Young University in Hawaii. This might seem impossible for others, but for Chona, no one can stop a determined dreamer. “If you want something bad enough, you have to work on it. Pour your heart into it whatever it takes.”
But before she tasted this sweet part of life, Chona had to face the uncertainties of her dreams and the questions she had yet to work for, “I was just a simple farm girl in Cagayan Valley. The circumstances looked bleak, and the ultimate question was where would I get the money?”
With her family’s love and World Vision’s support, poverty failed to stop her. Young Chona realized the value of hard work and perseverance as her mother got her involved with various outreach programs, letting her delve into and learn from community services. The major mark in her life started when she became a World Vision sponsored child. “My World Vision sponsor motivated me to continue to learn and improve. Even if we were miles apart, I always felt her love each time I received school supplies and a pair of shoes at the start of every school year,” Chona shared.
Because of this, Chona was more than determined to continue her studies and to even inspire other children as she became the Chairperson of World Vision’s National Children’s Federation at 13, connecting and becoming the voice of little kids.
“I am blessed because I was trained to be a child leader. I was given a lot of opportunities to encourage other children to speak up and be involved in issues,” she said.
One outstanding project Chona and other child leaders made was a published booklet called 50 Little Big Things – a collection of simple things children can do to make the world a better place.
All these contributed and prepared her for a bigger challenge in life: to study at a university in Hawaii.
At 18, she was already in U.S. to fulfill her dreams not only for herself, but also for her family. But it did not become easy–she had to adapt to the new surrounding and work part-time to support her education and personal expenses.
“It was really tough for me to be away from home, and to live with people of different cultures. The school was diverse, there were students from 70 countries. I learned to use my time wisely and make intelligent choices not only to survive but to thrive. It was really hard. I found myself crying most of the time,” Chona explained.
But these hardships Chona believed would bring her to finishing what she started. “It’s all part of reaping that reward when you get to the finish line and receive your diploma. Success is something you earn,” she added.
After 4 years in Hawaii, she finally reaped the fruits of her work in April 2015. She now works as an advisory consultant in an internal professional services firm, giving advise to corporations and helping manage their tasks.
As her job seeks to help big companies, Chona also allots her two cents for young people who, like her, dream of a better life. “No paths are the same. You can learn from other people who have taken the long road ahead. But be courageous enough to create your own story.”