The first Igorot girl child leader in the village

PANGASINAN, Philippines --- Pauline, 14, belongs to the indigenous Igorot tribe of the Philippines. Her village is nestled amidst a laidback neighborhood in the mountainous part of the province of Pangasinan. Like other families, Pauline’s family struggles to make ends meet. Her parents, Peter, 42, and Ecel, 32, are broom makers earning between Php3,000 ($55) and Php4,000 ($72) monthly.

“We would occasionally get work during rice harvest season. We earn roughly Php300 ($5) on a daily basis,” says Pauline’s mother, Ecel, sitting on a weathered wooden chair.

The family’s humble house is made from crumbling mortar and worn-out bricks. The only two rooms they have are sparsely furnished. In one room, tiger grasses that the family used to make brooms piled up.

“Life is hard in our village,” Ecel continues. “It’s nice that we get support from World Vision.” Ecel smiles referring to the livelihood and educational assistance that families in her village get from the organization. The family is also a recipient of the Philippine government’s conditional cash transfer called Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Despite her timid personality, Pauline shows a strong desire to help her community, especially the children. World Vision has been a firm advocate that children have the potential to make their lives better in the future. This drives the child-focused organization to provide various life skills activities to help children discover their potential.

One of these activities is the formation of a children’s group called Barangay Children's Association (BCA), which advocates for children’s rights and brings about meaningful change among its members.

The children selected Pauline as their Vice President during the BCA's recent election, much to her surprise. Though unsure of herself, Pauline takes on the challenge. “I’m the first child officer in our village,” she proudly says. She knew she has to overcome her shyness for she is not only the children’s representative but also her tribe’s pride.

With the newly formed BCA officers, World Vision has lined up a series of activities for members to practice their leadership and facilitation skills. “We recently facilitated a Birthday Bounce Back event attended by many children,” Pauline shares.

Among the child-focused activities that she participated in, one struck her the most. “We went to a weeklong training in another town. That was my first time meeting other children and being away from my family. It’s an experience I’ll never forget!” she adds.

Pauline and her co-BCA officers work closely with World Vision staff in the community. 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.

“World Vision opened my eyes that I have rights as a girl. Someday I want to be a teacher so I can also teach children their rights and good values, similar to what World Vision has taught me,” she says.

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