“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
If you graduate as Valedictorian in High School, a bright future is waiting for you, right?
Not for Jeorge Verba of Las Piñas City.
Jeorge knew that after high school, his future is as dark as their house at night. They often can’t pay the electricity bill. His family is gripped by fear as they go to sleep, wondering if they will wake up to the horrifying sound of their house being demolished.
“We have no legal residence, so, the fear of demolition of informal settlers is always haunting us,” Jeorge explains.
Jeorge is used to this kind of life, so used that going to school with an empty stomach and thirsty throat has become as normal as breathing in and out. He has no money for recess and school expenses.
With five siblings, his father’s income as a plumber is never enough to support the family. Instead of playing like what most children do, Jeorge helps his mom sell food and other stuff to ensure that they will have a meal for the day. Sometimes, he earns from doing the homework and project of his classmates.
“I never experienced having new toys, clothes, shoes or any kind of new stuff, so most of the time, I envied my friends,” recalls Jeorge.
His life could be another tragedy waiting to happen. But Jeorge hopes that by studying hard, he can achieve his dreams.
Unable to take entrance tests in top universities since they don’t have money for entrance fees, Jeorge enrolled at a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy course at Dr. Filemon C. Aguilar Memorial College of Las Piñas (DFCAM-CLP), a state college that offers free education to Las Piñas City residents.
Although four of Jeorge’s siblings have contractual work and they took on the responsibility of sustaining their basic needs, it is still not enough because their father can no longer take on a heavy work load.
One day, a Couples for Christ (CFC) member from Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP) South A chapter called Jeorge and invited him to an interview as a candidate for ANCOP’s Child Sponsorship Program (CSP). He later learned that his former teachers in T.S. Cruz High School were the ones who recommended him to ANCOP.
This was a spark which led Jeorge out of the darkness.
For the first time in his life, Jeorge was able to fully focus on his studies through ANCOP’s support.
Beyond the financial support that ANCOP gives, the organization provides a formation program for the holistic development of the scholars.
Jeorge explains: “ANCOP helps me build my personality and values as a Christian youth. They give us a series of seminars and talks that enlighten and motivate us to be better versions of ourselves and to be good servants of God.”
ANCOP offers a supportive community where the coordinators and “titos” (uncles) and “titas”(aunts), who are CFC members, look after the welfare of the scholars.
“They often ask us regarding our situation in school, in our family, and other personal matters. We always feel free to express our thoughts to them and, like parents, they listen and give us advice. They often tell us to study hard and work for our dreams,” says Jeorge.
It’s no surprise then that Jeorge’s gratitude to his ANCOP sponsors is overflowing.
“They suddenly changed my fate because of their good deeds,” Jeorge raves. “I always wish for their good health, long life and prosperous living. I never fail to include them in my daily prayers.”
Perhaps, this kind of support is the breakthrough which Jeorge needed for him to truly enjoy and soar high in college.
On his sophomore year, he ranked fourth in the overall Dean’s list of his school, and also ranked first in the Accountancy Qualifying Test.
Jeorge thinks the hurdles in his life helped him become persistent in his studies:
“The hardship I experienced at a very young age motivated me to study harder so that I would be able to achieve my dreams. I want my family to feel the comfort of life that we failed to experience because of poverty. Moreover, I don’t want my future family to have the same fate I have been through, so I am working hard to be a successful man who can provide for their needs.”
Jeorge knows well that there is no substitute for hard work. His source of inspiration is his mom and he hopes to be able to pay back his mother’s sacrifices.
“Since I was a child, I always see her work from day till night doing the household chores. She pretends to be alright though she is sick or exhausted. She always shows us that she can still carry on even if the situation is hopeless. She shows me the meaning of selfless and unconditional love. I want to return to her the favor by being a successful man she can be proud of. I want her to feel fulfilled because I am the product of her hardships,” Jeorge said.
Now that Jeorge has better prospects in life, what childhood dreams would he want to come true?
“The first dream I really want to achieve is to give my parents and siblings a big house wherein we can sleep at night with no worries. I want them to experience the comfort of life, to bring them to beautiful places, let them taste delicious food and do whatever they want to because we have the means to do so.”
Jeorge also has big dreams for his career and for other people like him who are trapped in the claws of poverty:
Life wasn’t kind to Jeorge when he was growing up, but it was because of his dark past that he was able to see the beauty in life, like stars in the dark night.
The future of Jeorge is now as clear as the summer sky thus, he thoughtfully shares this gentle reminder to his fellow ANCOP scholars: “Always look back and give back the glory we are experiencing by serving the Lord and our fellow Christians.”
By Noemi M. Pamintuan-Jara
Do you want to help other students like Jeorge? Contact ANCOP today at Landline (+632)709-4868 local 49, Mobile (+63) 915-118-4552, Email: email@example.com to ask about their Education Programs! Read more about ANCOP at cfcancop.org