Vanessa’s blessings uplift her family, even after tragedy

As the eldest sister, Vanessa felt a duty to help her family financially. But first, she had to redefine what success meant. 

Vanessa experienced all the benefits and drawbacks of being the first-born of six children. “Being the eldest, even when I was younger, I was very exposed to the truth that my family is financially challenged,” Vanessa remembers. Her father was their breadwinner, earning what he could from carpentry jobs in their community in the Philippines. “My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new pair of shoes, or a pair of uniforms for school.”  

Vanessa would ask her older cousins for hand-me-downs instead.  Nevertheless, “I never felt jealous of other kids,” Vanessa says. “My mother trained us to work hard to get what we want to have.”  

Vanessa was never deterred from going to class, but she wasn’t so sure about high school. “Just like most children in our small community, I was thinking of going with a relative in Manila to find a job.” But as much as she wanted to help her parents financially, “my mind was rumbling with my dreams of becoming a successful person someday. And this pushed me to enroll in high school.”  

Her decision was affirmed only a few months later. She got the news that she now had a Chalice sponsor through the Samar site. “This has been [the most] wonderful blessing that had ever come our way,” she writes. “It provided me with the things I never thought I could have. I could feel that circumstances in our lives changed.” 

People told her she was ‘lucky.’  “But for me it wasn’t just ‘luck’,” she muses, “it was indeed a blessing. A gift from above through kind and benevolent individuals who never think twice just sending help to a struggling family like ours.”  

Her sponsor gave her the encouragement to pursue university. But in her third year, after a short illness, Vanessa’s mother died of kidney disease. Vanessa could not see herself continuing school in her grief. But then, “the realization hits me that if my mother would still alive, she would scold me if I stopped. This idea made me continue.”  

Although bittersweet because of her mother’s absence, Vanessa walked across the stage and collected her diploma. 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 sponsor. “You contributed a lot to where I am today, and I am and forever be indebted for the untiring support you had given to me.”