World Vision’s Barkadahan Project brings hope to former out-of-school youth girl
“I’m the third child,” Jumila, 15, said, as she gestured the visitors to sit down on an old wooden bench with rugged teddy bear lying in the corner.
The family’s eldest is 23 years old while the youngest is merely 6 years old. The brood is being raised by their working parents, who have been struggling to have both ends meet. Davao City, being an urban town, provides opportunities to individuals who are willing to do whatever menial work is given to them with earnings that would suffice to survive a day.
The father, Renato, a known fortune teller stationed in front of a Catholic church, would earn from reading one’s future and luck. Once, an Overseas Filipino Worker gave Renato Php10,000 after his prediction came true that the OFW would one day be working overseas. Part of the money was used to renovate the family’s house.
Amelia said that although she earns as much as Php1000 a day from her store, more than half of it, around Php600, goes to paying for 5-6. Sometimes, the store income is just Php200. “If we can’t pay today, then we’ll pay double the next day,” she said matter-of-fact.
With debts to pay and irregular income from both parents, the family oftentimes face difficulty meeting their basic needs. In tough times, the children sometimes offer or asked to help. Three of the children have already stopped going to school to lessen expenses. The eldest now works in a carwash and earns Php300 a day.
Jumila was told to stop school when she was in Grade 6. “My parents decided that I should stop so we can send my younger siblings to school. I understand them. We were tight financially,” she recalled.
When Jumila stopped school, she started working in a carinderia (food stall) and earned Php150 a day. She would sometimes see her classmates passed by. Though she understands her parent’s decision, deep inside her young heart, she missed and wanted to go back to school.
“They are way ahead of me,” Jumila said. “They are in Grade 10 now while I’m just in Grade 8.”
Happy to study again
In Jumila’s village, more than 70% of youth are not in school. “Our out-of-school youth [OSY] problem here mostly stems from a family’s lack of financial stability,” Francisca, a village official, said. “But we never stop motivating them to go back to school. We have scholarships provided to them.” The village currently has 129 scholars.
To assist the village officials in promoting the value of education, World Vision offered to assist through the Barkadahan Project. “It’s a two-year project which aims to support the government’s effort in bringing the out-of-school youth back to school,” BJ Misterio, World Vision program officer, said.
The Barkadahan Project, with funds coming from Filipino sponsors, links these youth to appropriate government agencies that can give them the right training, skills and knowledge before they go back to the regular school system. Barkadahan Project also provides its 60 scholars with school supplies every year. All 60 scholars, who were once OSYs, are now continuing their studies in either formal or non-formal education.
“Because some OSYs have stopped for a long time, they may have difficulty catching up with regular school lessons. There is already a big knowledge and skills gap, and the Barkadahan Project addresses that through partnership with government agencies and sending these OSYs to the right agencies that offer opportunities for them to go back to school again,” Misterio added.
“I was happy when I was chosen to be a Barkadahan scholar. It’s like an achievement. Finally, I can continue going to school,” Jumila said.
Jumila, who wants to be a police officer someday, is now taking her studies under the Philippine National Police scholarship program every Saturday. On weekdays, she either take care of her younger siblings or man the store. “If you don’t have education, people will manipulate and deceive you,” Jumila replied as to why she still wants to continue schooling.
“I believe that no child wants to stop school. They just need the right motivation to continue despite their life’s circumstances. The Barkadahan Project offered that to 60 former OSYs who are now in school,” Misterio shared.