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.

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Success is Kind to Those Who Persevere

Success is Kind to Those Who Persevere

By Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

The reason why Lilibeth Eliver, 38, decided to pursue high school diploma was she wants “the best for my family. She said she wants to help her husband earn money so her children can enjoy the best they, the parents, can offer.

Lilibeth is the wife of Vicente “Vincent” Eliver, a social worker of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) who is in-charge of the organization’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program. Vincent knew the value of education and that of ALS as another route in achieving one’s aspirations. Hence, he encouraged her to pursue her dreams and the journey starts with ALS.

But the destination did not come easily nor immediately to Lilibeth. Nothing did. Lilibeth hails from Lucena, Quezon. The youngest in a brood of eight, she had to stop schooling because her parents could not afford it. So she looked for a job to help augment her family’s income. She worked as a secretary to a photo printing company. She gained the skills in photo printing and was promoted as printer.

She was in the first level of high school but was able to pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) of the Department of Education to qualify for third level of high school.

In 1997, she met Vincent, fell in love, lived together and had four girls. Their eldest was born deaf, a   challenge they hurdled by learning sign language by observing their daughter’s class.

Lilibeth enrolled in the Massage Therapy training of KKFI and graduated in October 2013. She became a certified massage therapist when she received a National Certificate II (NCII) from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The next year, she set her eyes on finishing her high school studies and enrolled in the ALS Program. She came upon another bump on the road when she failed to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination in 2015.  However, she was unfazed. She pursued and dedicated whatever free time she had in studying her lessons.

She borrowed and read the modules at home. She took the essay portion of the exam seriously and practiced at every opportunity.

Indeed, perseverance and dedication are the key to success. Lilibeth was able to pass the A&E exam on her second try. She was among the 23 who successfully passed in July 2016 who were honored by KKFI on its 66thFounding Anniversary.

 

VOWING TO HELP HER FAMILY

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“We have sunk deep in debts,” narrates Toni Rose C. Fuentes, 17.

Thoni Rose, as she preferred her name to be spelled, is one of the out-of-school youth in Barangay 109, Tondo, Manila. She stopped schooling due to financial problems. She was then about to enter the third level of high school at the Antonio J. Villegas Vocational High School.

Though her father, Antonio, has a steady job as a butcher, her mother, Julie, has a penchant for material things. The latter would borrow from loan sharks. This has been a cycle of borrowing and payments. She would even borrow to pay previous loans.

“Life had been better when there were just two of us children,” relates Thoni Rose. “But there were three more and our mother’s loans became too big to manage. “

Their grandfather, who also lives with them, added to the family expenses. Their eldest, Jhenny Rose, is a high school graduate but has also stopped schooling and just laze at home.

Thoni Rose took advantage of the opportunity shared by a friend to enroll in the Alternative Learning System of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in partnership with Barangay 109. She said free classes at the Barangay Hall has eased their family‘s financial burden. Added bonuses are free snacks and no uniform/shoe requirements.

She thanks the Lord God for answering her prayers. She enrolled at the Bookkeeping course of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) at the Don Bosco TVET Center in Tondo, Manila.

Indeed, Thoni Rose considers the ALS program a blessing. She is now a high graduate with a chance to better their lives. She vows to help her mother financially when she is able.

She thanks KKFI for guiding and teaching her. Indeed, KKFI is indeed a blessing to OSYs like her.

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.

REWARDS COME TO THOSE WHO SACRIFICE

Elated Ian Leonardo Sabdao (Right) is all smiles as he poses with a batchmate, Mark Anthony Tado.

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Ian (right) with batchmate, Mark Anthony (File photo of KKFI)

 

They are among the 23 students of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) who passed the recent Accreditation and Equivalency Examination conducted by the Department of Education.

“All these sacrifices led to this. Wooaahh!!! At first, I was afraid to find out that I failed the test and that my name would not be in the list of passers, but BOOM!!” Ian enthused. “I thought my dream was long dead, but it was suddenly resurrected because the Lord used a few special people who gave me the opportunity to study and start all over again.”

Ian admitted that it was a huge struggle that entailed much sacrifices, but concluded that it’s all worth it. He extended his heartfelt gratitude to his mentors—Joanna Marie Merced, Nora Asedillo-Cunningham and Arvin Reyes. He gave a special mention to Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for its all-out support to him and the rest of the ALS students. 

THE MENTOR AND THE ACTORS

Kuya Rex Dayao, Program Director of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) shares a few acting tips to the passers of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), who are set to present a mini-play during a KKFI-sponsored commencement exercise on Friday, July 22, 2016.

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Kapatiran will honour the 23 ALS students who successfully passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test of the Department of Education (DepEd) in a ceremony at the Max’s Restaurant in Quezon City.

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After the commencement exercise, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of KKFI will conduct its regular meeting. “We are proud of the achievement of our scholars,” Executive Director Ms Nancy C. Nicolas said. “It motivated us much more to help the out-of-school youth as they pursue a better future through education.” (Photos by Glenda B. Gutierrez/KKFI)

‘MANILA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET’

‘MANILA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET’
(The Kapatiran Stories blog site is reprinting here the article about the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. [KKFI] published last Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Starweek, the Sunday magazine of the Philippines’ leading broadsheet, the Philippine Star. It was written by Ms Cheeko B. Ruiz, one of the desk editors of the newspapers. In her article entitled, “Transformation and Hope in the Heart of Manila,” Ms Ruiz discovers the facilities and pro-poor programs of the country’s first social development-oriented non-government organization [NGO]. Ms Ruiz called KKFI as “Manila’s best-kept secret.” Read on and find out what she means.)

In most dormitories in the University Belt, the average rate of a four-person room with two double-deck beds is P18,000 per month, excluding utilities.

In contrast, the rate for similar facilities – a room with four single beds – at the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) dormitories along P. Paredes corner Lerma Streets is only P7400.

The first of its kind in the country, “it’s a home away from home,” says Nancy Nicolas, executive director of the KKFI, social development arm of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

Formerly known as the Methodist Social Center, the KKFI was founded in 1950 as a response to the challenge to work with the poor in their struggle for genuine human development.

Spanning 66 years of social development work, the KKFI started as a feeding program for children that missionary Madaleine Kleeper set up in 1949.

The feeding program spawned a kindergarten and a pre-school. At the same time, the children’s parents were provided with skills or livelihood training like sewing.

During martial law in the 1970s, KKFI responded to the issue of the time, opening the center to student activists.

Until today, KKFI remains committed to the marginalized sector, says Nancy, relating that farmers from Tarlac and Sumilao, Bukidnon have at times sought their help when they travel to the metropolis.

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A volunteer teacher for Likharal looks on as students accomplish an exercise

 

“But what remains is education, that’s our expertise,” Nancy says.

From offering pre-school education, they moved on to the Alternative Learning System (ALS) for poor children in elementary and high school levels starting in 2011

Development work is not an easy task, according to Nancy, as she stressed that they have a lot of support groups.relief.JPGslipper.JPG

KKFI executive director Nancy Nicolas distributes relief goods to victims of calamities in the provinces and slippers to beneficiaries in Navotas.

 

“We cannot do everything. We have to partner with like-minded organizations like the church,” she says.

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Nancy Nicolas signs a memorandum of agreement with representatives of Unilab and Lighthouse Baptist Church, KKFI’s partners.

 

“Ninety percent of our budget comes from our facilities like our dormitories. We have offices, basketball courts, and of course, donations are welcome,” Nancy says.

“We have volunteers from Africa, the US and other parts of the world, but their social development skills should match those that we need. They serve normally for about a year or two, but the others extend.”

Wilma Galacio, who had been living in the Manila North Cemetery for over 20 years and whose three children enrolled in the ALS, expressed gratefulness to KKFI for what she described as a big blessing to her family. She said she never imagined it was possible to send her children to school. To express her gratitude, she volunteered to cook the meals offered to ALS students.

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An ALS student demonstrates her skill in massage therapy at the KKFI spa center.

 

Leonard, one of Wilma’s children, meanwhile, vowed not to waste the opportunity given to him. “Hindi ako magsasayang ng panahon. Desidido akong makaangat sa buhay (I will not waste time. I am determined to improve my life),” he says.

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Nancy tries to use a solar-powered cooker donated by Brainfood, a Washington based NGO.

 

Last year, the KKFI also started to provide technical education using the dual training system of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) called the training for employment program.

Under the scheme, the students have classroom education for six months then proceed to their on-the-job training wherein they will already be paid by their employers.

KKFI also helps find scholarships for ALS students who are able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test.

To provide livelihood for those who do not pass the A&E test, KKFI put up a spa where they could work as massage therapists.

“We are not going to stop. Otherwise this will impede the transformation of the students,” Nancy says.

While the process of transformation may seem never-ending and at times difficult, Nancy offers another important word: hope. “Kahit ‘yun man lang maibigay naming (Even if we could only give them that),” she says, explaining how some poor students who had the opportunity to go to school quickly realized they could do something to chart their future.

“Their perspective changes. They start to think that they have value in our society,” she says.

But things do not always go according to plan, says Nancy, so they always have to keep their doors open.

“When you plan, you usually have a time frame – which may not necessarily be followed. Like if the process of a child’s development is slow, then we have to extend our time frame,” she says.

“At the end of the day, you have to be flexible, you have to have a back-up plan, otherwise you will end up frustrated.”

Nancy believes in the saying that great things almost always start small, and what’s important is stepping toward the right direction, similar to what the KKFI has done throughout the years.

Ultimately, what the KKFI inculcates into the minds of the beneficiaries is that without spiritual growth, the pursuit for a better life would not be sustainable.

Spiritual growth, transformation and hope – that’s what can be found in the heart of Manila’s best kept secret.