Teen girl determined to make flight attendant dream a reality

PANGASINAN, Philippines — “I’ll make it come true no matter what,” a determined Xanniyah, 16, says, her eyes sparkling as she tells of her ambition to become a flight attendant, which others consider a fancy dream that will never happen.

Xanniyah, currently in Grade 10, is born into a modest family. Her mother, Carol, 37, works in Manila as a housekeeper. She and her older brother, Carlo, 17, live with their Aunt Gen, a local health worker and nanny, and Uncle Alben, a tricycle driver.

With a meager family income and expensive Philippine education that ranges between Php55,000 ($1,000) to Php300,000 ($6,000) a year, many dismissed Xanniyah’s dream. But she refused to let the negativity deter her. She knows that her mother and relatives are also working hard to make her dream come true. “They inspired me to be better in everything I do,” she says.

Socio-economic discrimination oftentimes leads to girls being denied their rights to pursue professional growth. Women and girls’ roles are merely seen as primary caregivers and delegated the duties of household chores while most men are in the labor force. Culturally rooted gender disparity is one of the reasons why girls end up in early child marriages or teen pregnancies. Globally, the Philippines ranked 12th in child marriages, UNICEF reported.

World Vision believes that girls have the potential to shape the future. In 2022, World Vision has reached around 1.5 million girls with skills development programs, health and nutrition, education, and even spiritual nurture. Their families were likewise provided with livelihood assistance.

A few months back, Xanniyah’s family received two goats from World Vision. Her Aunt Gen is also a member of World Vision’s community savings group that teaches families the importance of savings. From her savings, Aunt Gen bought a few appliances and was able to repair a new pig pen.

World Vision’s child-focused activities aim to unlock children’s capabilities and give them a new life perspective. “Once they are exposed to different activities, they begin to dream big because they know now what they can do,” Chifadel Mabolo, World Vision Safeguarding Manager, shares.

Xanniyah is a student officer in her school and is one of World Vision’s active child leaders in her community. She is currently involved in a reading program in her community. She volunteers as a tutor for World Vision’s partner, Go Bike, a group that offers free reading lessons to children.

During weekends, she and other Go Bike team members would pedal their way to children’s houses. Her heart filled with joy as she greets them “Good day!” Her students’ tiny faces would light up seeing the colorful books that she carries on her bicycle. As weeks went by, the young students would show signs of progress.

“I’m helping children how to read because I believe that literacy is one of the keys to our dreams,” she shares.

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