Vanessa’s graduation is a dream come true

Vanessa is the oldest of six children in her family, and, in her own words, “this is my journey towards attaining my first ever dream.” 

Vanessa and her family live near our Samar sponsor site, in Laoang, Philippines. She was aware from a young age that their family struggled to make ends meet, often lacking the essentials, and they were food insecure. “My parents can’t afford to buy me a new pair of shoes, or a uniform for school.” Vanessa would ask her older cousins for hand-me-downs instead.  

Despite her family’s circumstances, “I never felt jealous of other kids,” Vanessa says. “My mother trained us to work hard to get what we want to have.” Unashamed of her worn-out uniform, Vanessa was never deterred from going to class, and was chosen class valedictorian in elementary school.   

When it came time to move on to high school, Vanessa had a choice: stay in school, or find work to help her parents. “Just like most children in our small community, I was thinking of going with a relative in Manila to find a job.” As much as she wanted to help her three school-aged siblings, she felt a tug to go back to class. Her decision was affirmed only a few months later when she found out that she now had a Chalice sponsor through the Samar site! 

“This has been a wonderful blessing,” she writes, “a gift from above through kind and benevolent individuals who never think twice just sending help to a struggling family like ours. It provided me with the things I never thought I could have. From the basic goods, hygienic products, uniform, shoes, and even pay for my fees in school and many others.”  

With a little extra income, her mother could start her own business, selling a local rice cake treat called biblinka. 

Through hard work and determination, Vanessa continued to succeed and graduated with a high school diploma.

Now came another big decision: college or work? Vanessa thought the expenses were simply too much. But her parents thought otherwise. “They want me to continue, so that I can land a better job after graduation. And hopeful that if ever I could graduate from college, I could help draw them out of poverty.” 

She went ahead, but in her third year, Vanessa’s mother died of kidney disease after a short illness. Vanessa was devastated. She thought “I can’t just move forward after what happened.” But then, “the realization hits me that if my mother were still alive, she will scold me if I stop from there – in my third year of college.” 

Although bittersweet because of her mother’s absence, Vanessa fulfilled her dream as she walked across the stage and collected her college diploma with a Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English. “My achievement as a graduate from college is a dream that I also know she dreamed for me.”  

Now, Vanessa vows, “I will make sure that I will do the best I can to become successful and hopefully help my siblings finish their studies too.”  

“Cliché as it may seem, but sincerely, this humble achievement is for you also,” Vanessa says to her sponsors and the Samar site staff. “You contributed a lot to where I am today, and I am and will be forever indebted for the untiring support you had given to me. Thank you for the ten years of support, Chalice. Thank you for taking care of this struggling child to finish her family’s dream: her graduation.”