We are excited to report that the end of March marked not only the end of the school year in the Philippines but a significant accomplishment for eleven of our Badjao students who graduated from elementary school (the equivalent of a 6th grade U.S. education).
For nine girls, ranging in age from 12 to 14, and two boys, age 15 and 17, this was a significant personal achievement as they overcame the odds to be education trail blazers in their families and community.
Throughout the past school year, the two boys—Juvy (far right) and Wowie (far left) both of whom want to become doctors—experienced particular pressure to abandon their education goal. Nonetheless, with the support and guidance of Badjao Bridge, they persevered.
In the impoverished Badjao economy, a teenage boy typically contributes to his family’s livelihood, precluding him from attending classes or spending the necessary time to study. This is especially true in single parent households, as is the case with Juvy whose father died while fishing a couple of years ago. While most kids were finishing their homework and getting a good night’s sleep, both Juvy and Wowie worked as tenders on fishing boats each evening from 10:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. to earn enough money for the day’s meals. (A tender is someone who manages the lines for fishermen.)
Even with the late night schedule, Juvy was awarded recognition for outstanding attendance and Wowie completed his studies despite a battle with degenerative eyesight. Often the boys were tempted to succumb to life’s pressures. But, leaning on each other, they overcame adversity and the pressure to abandon their education dream.
The success of these eleven graduates is Badjao Bridge’s shared success! One of our primary goals is to change the trajectory of the next generation’s lives through the foundation of education, a portal to new opportunities.