NEVER TOO YOUNG TO LEAD

by Rex M. Dayao

 

I was on my way home one night of October 2016 when the jeepney that I am riding suddenly stopped. Three men had been shot dead. They, according the police, were drug users and pushers.

Drug users and pushers are considered the main culprits for crimes and illegal acts in the Philippines. While a part of me was at peace knowing that there were three less criminals in my community, I cannot help but worry about the lives that were lost because of not being given the opportunity to change, or perhaps given another option.

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YLEAD participants had to cross the “Spider Web” without touching the wires. Once a teammate touches the wire all of them have to repeat the process.

Our passionate President, Rodrigo Duterte launched a “war on drugs” with the fear of our country being a narcotic state. Since the launch, at least a million of Filipinos, majority are youth, have surrendered and are now being rehabilitated through a multi-sectoral approach.

More than 30 million Filipinos are in the age of 15-35. At least 20 million were not able to finish schooling and have limited access for jobs, or have no jobs at all. The lack of options gives these youth the ample time to engage on vices, gang wars or drug abuse.

This is the rationale that inspired Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc (KKFI) to develop a program that provides opportunities for the youth to learn about leadership, education, advocacy and development.

Youth, Lead and Advocate for Development (YLEAD) is a program that enables the youth to be a catalyst of change in their respective communities.

YLEAD was launched in September 2015 and was attended by 75 young leaders from communities in Manila and Bulacan. The seven groups were able to implement projects in their respective communities, to address challenges in education, economic and environmental concerns. It is good to note that majority of our Alternative Learning System passers undergo the YLEAD training, thus making the training relevant in shaping young leaders.

On its second year, the program team identified seven mentors composed of KKFI staff and Global Mission Fellows. To aid in facilitating the YLEAD Camp, 22 young facilitators applied and were competently trained to assist the mentors and co-participants.

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Barangay  Tibag group plans for their YLEAD project

Last October 25-28, 2016, 85 young leaders gathered at Gilead Training Center in Pulilan, Bulacan to learn more about themselves, their peers and their respective communities.

Ms. Nancy C. Nicolas, KKFI Executive Director opened the training by relaying her story of leadership. She said that her mother exposed her to national trainings provided by the United Methodist Church. Said experience propelled her to be the National President of United Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines (UMYFP).

She told young leaders to never stop initiating change and believe in themselves amidst challenges.

The training was highlighted with the seven core groups presenting their community projects which aimed to provide people in their communities the knowledge and services they need to have a better life.

Axel Supleto, one of the participants said, “YLEAD is life-changing. I am thankful that I was able to attend. I was able to know myself better and I have the opportunity to do something for my community.”

While many fall victim of drugs and lack of opportunities, KKFI tries to find ways to create options out of challenges. YLEAD is a program that unleashes the power of the youth to be involved and prove to everyone that they are never too young to lead.

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KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE

By Glenda Gutierrez

“I always wanted to be a teacher; it was my childhood dream,” Marjorie Seda, 21, confessed.

Marjorie knew how important education is in achieving one’s dream. But then, she got pregnant when she was just 16 years old. She had to stop schooling and married her boyfriend. They now have two sons, aged 6 and 3.

Her condition in life drastically changed, but not her dream. Little did she know that the opportunity to finish her high school was just around the corner.

“When I learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), I immediately grabbed the chance,” Marjorie narrated. “I was one of the members of first batch in 2014.”

It was Teacher Lovely Joie Orgado, an Instructional Manager, who promoted the ALS Program of KKFI in Navotas City, where Marjorie resides. When she learned about it, she excitedly enrolled with high hopes.

However, there was not straight road to success. In fact, it was extra-long and extra-winding for a young mother like Marjorie.

“I almost gave up,” she said. “I was a bit embarrassed because I had to bring my two sons to ALS classes.” Her children slept while classes were ongoing.

But her desire to offer a better life to her family prevailed. She knew that education is the key to a better future. Inspired by her sons and husband, Marjorie struggled on.

“I failed on my first attempt so I studied harder,” continued Marjorie.

She was determined to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) examination of the Department of Education. She borrowed modules since she could no longer attend classes when they moved to Malolos, Bulacan. She read and practiced writing essays at home.

She and her husband were overjoyed when she passed. She had to set her dreams aside however, to work in abroad as a domestic helper. She flew to Saudi Arabia a few weeks after learning she passed the A&E exam so she was not able to attend KKFI’s 66th Founding Anniversary celebration, where a graduation ceremony was conducted by KKFI for the new batch of passers.

She was unlucky, however, with her employer so she came back to the Philippines in October 2016. She is now looking for a scholarship grant so she could pursue her dream of being a teacher. Her back up plan is to take a course in welding or tailoring in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Indeed, the pathway to success may involve crossroads. We need to choose and go on. That’s life.

MAKING WEAKNESSES INTO STRENGTHS

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“There are people who look down on me. Therefore, I made my weaknesses into my strength. ” says Algin Tan, 17.

Gin, as he is fondly called is gay. He experienced discrimination due to his gender preference. He knew when he was in grade school that he had a female heart in a man’s body. But he says his family especially his parents supports him. Outwardly, he looks happy but he has some insecurities.

He stopped his schooling due to an unexplainable illness. He had skin sores that lasted five months. Due to embarrassment, he went to Nueva Ecija, a province north of Manila, to recuperate. He was in fourth level of high school then at the San Roque National High School in Navotas, a city north of Manila.

Their family also experienced financial lack. His father, Avelino, is a laborer and his mother, Ma. Gina, is a “kasambahay” (housekeeper.) Gin has a sister who is in second level of college.

He learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) from his aunt.

“I really want to continue my studies so I enrolled in ALS,” says Gin. “I want to get a good paying job so I can help my family,” he added.

Surrendering never entered his mind. He is set on his goal to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (a & e) examination.

When asked what he did to pass. He answered “I prayed and encouraged myself I could do it.”

“I feel blessed and proud to be me,” exclaimed Gin. “I am ready to achieve my dreams. My passing is a sign for me to achieve my dreams.

Indeed, he did it. He passed the A & E examination and has enrolled in a university to take up BS Accountancy. People may looked down on him but he never made it an obstacle in achieving his dreams. He made his weaknesses into strengths.

REGAINING SELF-CONFIDENCE

by Glenda B. Gutierrez
 
At the age of 15, Rachelle Cruz had to stop her formal education because “I got pregnant and got married.” Rachelle, still a teenager at 19, is very candid about. Yet one can sense regret in her voice.
 
She has reached the second level of high school and she is determined that the change of her marital status would not be a barrier. She knew that she has her whole life ahead of her and the lack of education would not stop her from dreaming of a better life.
 
Rachelle admitted that she lost her self-confidence when she got pregnant. She thought her future would be bleak. She said her mother, who is into direct selling of beauty products, supported her financially.
 
But Rachelle is a resourceful person. She buys goods from Divisoria, a business center in Manila, and sells them online.
 
“I earn enough for my baby’s milk,” narrates Rachelle.
 
Rachelle and her friend, Jonalyn Villaruel, were among those who enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) at the St. Peter United Methodist Church (UMC) in Navotas City.
 
She was among the youth who were visited by staff members of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) to promote ALS.
 
“I enrolled in ALS because I want to have a well-paying and stable job,” says Rachelle.
 
Despite the difficulties due to her second pregnancy, she persevered. She studied at home whenever she was unable to go to class. She was advised by her doctor to rest near when her due date neared.
 
She initially thought that she would not pass the Accreditation and Equivalency Examination. That was how low her self-esteem was. Drawing inspiration from her children, she studied hard, reviewing thoroughly for the exam. Imagine her joy upon the knowing the results.
 
She is passed the entrance examination and interview of the Don Bosco TVET Center for the Bookeeping course of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Their classes will start this November 2016. She plans to look for a job to save for a college education. She dreams of putting up her own business or a restaurant.
 
Rachelle is slowly but surely regaining her self-confidence that she once lost.

FOR THE LOVE OF GRANDMA

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“The Alternative Learning System (ALS) will help me get a better-paying job with which I would be able to help my family. ALS would also widen my knowledge,” says Mark Anthony Tado, 16, in Filipino.

Mac, as he is fondly called, enrolled in the ALS of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Tondo, Manila because he wanted to finish his studies. He learned about the program from his grandmother who frequents the Barangay Hall to avail of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government.

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Mark Anthony Tado left with batchmate Ian Leonardo Sabdao

Mac grew up with his grandparents. His mother, Laila is now living in Bacolod and has her own family. Mac has three half-siblings.

He stopped schooling after the second level of high school due to financial constraints. Both his grandparents are no longer working.

Mac idolizes his grandmother, Lola Anlay, whom he considers his inspiration. She took care of him despite her ailment. She is the reason why he refrained from bad habits and vices. He hopes to earn to help his Lola soon.

Mac admitted that his cousins did not believe he will not be able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency examination. He even thought of giving up the ALS to take care of his grandmother.

But he really wanted to finish his studies. So he persevered and did his best. His folder which is full essays and mock tests is a testament to his dedication.

Mac wanted to become either a seaman or a basketball player who is included in the roster of a team included in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the premier professional league in the country.

But first, he said he wanted to get a college diploma from the University of the East (UE) then work hard so he can buy a house and a car of his own. But before that, he knew he has to take a more practical and realistic step– enroll in a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) course, have a job the soonest possible time, earn and save.

Mac will do whatever it take to offer the best for his grandparents, especially Lola Anlay.

PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

Jay Legarda of Malabon City was forced to stop studying because he had to work and help the financially strapped family. It was a decision that he had to make with a heavy heart.

But deep inside him, there is a gnawing realization of a truth in the worldly and capitalistic reality we are in—only education can get anyone a better-paying and stable job. If he could only reach this point, the poverty that his family is trapped would give him and everyone he loves an all-important respite.

The 22-year-old young man knew that his attention and efforts must focus on his education and on how to finish his studies.

Then he learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) through his brother, Rolegie, who attended. It was a blessing! Now, he has a chance to finish his high school studies as soon as possible and at the same time continue assisting his family financially.

Deriving inspiration from his parents and girlfriend, Jay was more than determined to pass ALS. Just like other ALS students who were able to pass, he must persevere. He knew that was the key to success—perseverance.

“I borrowed and read the modules and answered the sample questionnaires there. I learned how to write essays correctly. I also read and re-read the questions to make sure I understood them during the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) examination,” Jay said.

He added: “Because of my preparations, I somehow knew I would pass.”

Then, came the day of reckoning. Despite the confidence, the jitters and the butterflies in his stomach would not go away. The moment he learned that he successfully hurdled the test, the joy was indescribable!

“There were thousands who took the A & E exam and I was one of the few who passed,” he said.

Jay never thought of giving up because he knew “no one succeeds by giving up.” He thanked the Almighty God for guiding and giving him wisdom. He knew God is faithful.

Now, he plans to enroll in a Welding Course at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to get a national certification. He plans to work and save in order to get a criminology degree in a university.

Indeed, career and financial success is within sight. Everything is different now. A year ago, this wasn’t so, when everything was foggy and Jay was not sure where to go to reach his destination.

Perseverance did and Jason knew it.

 

CORRECTING ONE’S MISTAKES

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“They are my inspiration,” declares 23-year-old Jonalyn C. Villaruel, referring to her two lovely children.

She was in her third year in high school when she dropped out of school early, blaming this misfortune on early pregnancy and bad influence of peers. However, she refused to accept that having a family that she had to care for was a hindrance in finishing her education.

Then, a life-changing blessing from God came into her life. It came in the form of three staff members of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) who visited her in her house. They told her about the Foundation’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.

Jonalyn’s “angels”—former KKFI Community Development Worker Arvin Reyes, St. Peter United Methodist Church (UMC) Coordinator Ana Martin and former KKFI Instructional Manager Lovely Joie Orgado–convinced the young mother to try ALS.

They did not need to take too much effort, though. Jhona immediately enrolled because she immediately realized that ALS was the answer to her prayer. But it was not all bed of roses for Jhona.

“Nahihirapan po ako sa pag-aasikaso ng anak ko. Kapag may pasok po sa ALS ay isinasama ko na lang po sa St. Peter. Pagdating ng 4:30 o 5:00 p.m., nagpapaalam na po ako kasi magsusundo pa po ako ng anak sa eskwelahan,” she relates. (I would bring my youngest child to class with me because I found it difficult to look for someone to take care of my child. I also would ask permission to leave the class early to pick up my eldest from school)

She learned to manage her time the most efficient way in order to cope. Whenever she was not able to attend classes, she made sure that she reviewed the lessons at home. She also read modules during her free time.

She was ecstatic upon learning that she passed the Accreditation and Equivalency examination given by the Department of Education last April 17, 2016. Now, she is planning to enroll in college and find a good-paying job for her family.

When asked if she is ready to reach her goals, she answered: “Handa na po dahil sayang ang pahanon.”

Jhona is currently completing the requirenents for a 15-month training in bookkeeping at the Don Bosco TVET Center in Tondo, Manila and to be certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). She hopes to be a Certified Public Accountant someday. Their classes start November 2016.

Indeed, one’s mistakes can be corrected. Jhona is now steering her life to a brighter future.