by Glenda B. Gutierrez
“I was given away by my mother,” confesses Andrea Faye Figueroa, 17, speaking in the vernacular.
Andeng, as she was fondly called, grew up with her aunt. She was only three months old when her mother gave her away. She says her mother cannot afford to raise nine children of different fathers. She is the sixth child.
She says her life is better with her aunt, who treated her like her own child. However, she has children of her own to raise and did not have very much time for her.
Due to lack of parental guidance, Andeng became remiss in her studies. She said she stopped schooling due to plain laziness. She was able to finish her first year of high school at the Obando National High School.
She stayed with her biological mother for a year. However, she did get along well with her siblings, her mother and the latter’s new husband. So she went back to her aunt and stayed at home. She said she preferred to go out with friends or bum around the house than go to school.
But there came a point when she longed to turn her life around. She wanted a better future, after all and she knew that her dream can only be achieved if she gains adequate education for her to get a better employment.  
Then she learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program from a friend who was attending such. The next thing she knew, she was enrolling in the ALS program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).
Still, it was a roller-coaster ride. Andeng had to struggle and there were times when she felt discouraged. But she did not give up.
“Inisip ko na wala akong mararating kung puro tambay lang ang gagawin ko,” says Andeng (I thought I would not amount to anything by bumming around). “I simply persevered and held on to my faith in God.”
Her hardships paid off. Andeng was able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency examination of the Department of Education. She said her inspiration is her aunt who took care of her.
The sadness brought about by the estrangement from her family still haunts her. But she tries to look at it from a mature point of view. She is focusing on her future college course, education, and dreaming of becoming a teacher.
She plans to financially provide for her family and send her younger siblings to school. That way, she hopes the brokenness of her family will somehow be healed.

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