by Glenda B. Gutierrez
“You live in a cemetery?” a member of the panel of judges incredulously asked 18-year-old Wendilyn Aliwalas. That question startled Wendy, who was nervous enough that she thought she would faint. Her thoughts were racing.
“Don’t they believe me?” She thought her dream of being picked for scholarship by the Soroptimist International of Mandaluyong was doomed.
“I never experienced being so nervous as I was during the interview,” Wendy narrated. “There were other applicants and I don’t know if their stories touched the hearts of the judges and mine did not.”
It turned out that her fears were unfounded. Indeed, Wendy’s story moved the judges so much that they picked her for the scholarship. They were impressed with her when she said that her fondest desire was to finish her studies so she will be able to find a stable job and build a house outside of the cemetery for her family.
But her blessings did not stop there. Last, February 13, 2018, Mrs. Ruth Flores informed Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) that Wendy won an award again and became a regional awardee.
Now more than ever, her dream is within reach.
Wendy is now a second year student of BS Office Management at the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST). Her father, Glenn, 39, is a construction worker with no permanent employer. He sometimes moonlights as a tomb engraver to augment the family income. Her mother, Irene, is a stay-at-home mother. At the time of the LYD awarding, Glenn was unemployed. On top of that, he and Irene were in the brink of separation.
Wendy is the second of four children. Her eldest brother, Robin, 21, is a school dropout who has his own family to feed. Their younger sister, Jenalyn, 14, Grade 8, is also a KKFI scholar while the youngest brother, Rhaizen, 8, is in Grade 2.
Wendy has been a KKFI scholar and she is required to render volunteer services by helping in the implementation of programs such as the Alternative Learning System and Youth Leadership, Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD).
Joharrah Eunice Mae Rafanan, KKFI Community Development Worker, describes her as a reliable, industrious, flexible and responsible leader. Wendy helps out in the efficient implementation of the two projects. She is a known as disciplinarian and her authoritative demeanor makes an effective leader among the young people.
Last year, KKFI recommended Wendy to the Soroptimist’s “Live Your Dream” (LYD) Program through Mrs. Ruth Flores, KKFI’s corporate secretary. Mrs. Flores is a member of Mandaluyong Chapter of Soroptimist International, an organization that aims to empower women. It is present in 28 geographic regions all over the world.
The LYD Award is given to financially needy young women to help finance their education.
In her online application to the LYD, Wendy wrote about how hard it was to live in a place such as the Manila North Cemetery that has no adequate supply of water and has no electricity, aside from the fact that it was almost impossible to enjoy privacy there.
Wendy also fears for her safety from sexual abuse due to the proliferation of drug addicts and drunkards loitering in the streets. She wrote that to ensure her safety, her mother fetches her at the cemetery’s gate when she goes home at night.
The two social workers of KKFI, Vicente Eliver and Flora Mae Tatoy, wrote references that added points to her application. They wrote how conscientious Wendy is as a student, hence garnering good grades. They also related how helpful she is in the implementation of KKFI programs.
Wendy’s wonderful traits and attitude, indeed, allowed her to live her dream.