Gena standing next to her father who has one arm outside a building
Gena (right) with her father on the day she met the Sisters

Early life

Gena is 12 years old and the third of four children. Her parents work hard to provide for the family through subsistence farming. Gena’s father is disabled but continues to go out and farm palay (rice that hasn’t been husked) to provide food for the family.

The family struggles to make a meagre income in this rural region of the Philippines. Farming is one of the only means of earning a living and life is hard. They are particularly impacted by the effects of climate change, natural disasters such as typhoons, destroy crops in an instant and life as a subsistence farmer is precarious.

Gena dreams of becoming a teacher one day, to help others like her receive an education that can change their lives, but without an education this is an impossible dream.

Gena sitting and reading in a library with other students
Gena (left) reading at school

Life at school

Gena met the Sisters of Mary in 2021 when they visited her local community and were able to offer her a place at their school in Biga, the Philippines. She joined the school in August 2022 and is now thriving.

She is a part of the family of girls her age. She attends classes with her friends, plays sport, pursues her hobbies and interests, and most importantly is learning the skills she needs to live an independent and productive life after school.

Thanks to the high-quality secondary education that the sisters provide, Gena will have the best possible learning foundation for a life away from poverty. With her new education she will have a head-start in securing well-paid, stable employment and she will be able to help support her family and escape their lives of poverty – permanently.