Rossyle (Ross) grew up in a poor rural farming family in the Philippines, near Manila. Ross is the middle child of five, and being the only girl, her parents were intent on keeping her at home. Ross convinced her parents to allow her to meet with the Sisters of Mary during their visits to her community and she was offered at place at the Girlstown near Manila. Ross excelled at the school, academically and socially. She believes that the discipline she learnt from the sisters helped prepare her for life beyond Girlstown. She said of her time there that “From the time management, focus and the energy I learned there. I managed to apply it in the outside world.”
Ross graduated from Girlstown and went on to work in a dressmaking company in the Philippines for a couple of years before attending La Concordia College on a full scholarship and completing a Bachelor of Science and Commerce, graduating with honours.
After moving to Qatar to find better earning potential to help support her parents, siblings, and her son, Ross gained great success with her career in logistics management however she struggled with the monotony of life as an expat worker. So she took up running, starting with walking every morning to improve her physical health, and then moving to jogging until she was running every morning before work. Soon, Ross was entering races and surprised herself by winning one of her very first. She joined a network of runners in Qatar, found a community of people and started to win ultra marathons.
Soon Ross connected with three other expat women, two from the UK and one from Canada, who formed a group called the Desert Roses. The four women became the first female group to circumnavigate the 500km of Qatar. In October 2022, Ross ran the virtual London Marathon in support of World Villages for Children, to support and raise awareness for our programmes around the world and the positive impact they have on the lives of impoverished children. In April 2023, she is achieving her dream of running the London Marathon on the official course.
Ross spoke about how her education set her up for success, qualifying her for a scholarship for college but also giving her practical vocational skills she used until college was possible. Because of her training, Ross has been able to work and support her family back in the Philippines. She has been able to put her youngest brother through college thanks to her education and the impact is still felt by their whole family today. She believes that “education is really the key to ending poverty achieving sustainable, positive change in society” and has now progressed her learning even further by studying for a Master’s degree.
Her encouragement for young women and girls is to “be brave, stand up, be seen and be heard. Because sometimes we girls, we women are characterized as being soft hearted and (have a) feeling of inferiority “ah, I am just a girl”. No! We are still human, the same human.”
Knowing how much education has transformed her life and what it can bring to young girls, Ross encourages all the girls currently studying at the World Villages for Children programmes: “to my younger sisters in the Sisters of Mary Schools, study well because that is the only way that no one can take away from us and from my experience it became my passport to where I am now. It’s engraved in my heart, what Father Al said that “My children, you are not created to be like fat little ducks waddling in the mud but to be eagles lifting to rise above”.