“Where I am today could have been totally different had it not been for World Villages for Children” – Meet Junilo, graduate from Cavite boys’ school, Philippines, 1999
Junilo graduated from the Cavite boys’ high school in the Philippines in 1999. He went on to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree from STI College Makati in 2014. Having enjoyed a few job roles in technology, Junilo is now a software engineer in the Philippines.
Growing up in Quezon Province, Junilo’s family worked in farming which provided them with just enough basics to get by. However, he always dreamed of going to high school and was grateful when the opportunity came to study at the school in Cavite, which is run by the Sisters of Mary, an independent humanitarian institution who run and operate our programmes.
Junillo and his family
Junilo said: “Around ten of us from Quezon were chosen to attend high school in Cavite, most of us with only the shirts on our backs. Upon arrival we were provided with new clothes, shoes and school supplies. From the very first day to the last I loved my time learning and growing in Cavite, my memories of this time are filled with happy memories thanks to the generous benefactors who keep our school open.”
He continues: “From day one until our graduation day, each day was filled with memories, excellent memories. The whole stay was full of fun, learning and development - physical, mental and spiritual. There was never an idle or a dull moment for us - there was always something to do, something to keep us busy.”
Junilo loved studying, he particularly enjoyed the computer electronics lessons where he would assemble the hardware of the computer. As part of computer studies, Junilo also had typing lessons. He comments: “credit goes to our typing lessons. This has helped me a lot in my current job typing thousands of lines of codes for 11 years now and counting!”
Local manufacturing companies were aware of the quality education children received at the WVC school, so children were invited to interview a few months before graduation. This is where Junilo landed his the first job as a CAD Operator.
Junilo said: “I am very grateful of where I am today. Looking back, I can definitely say that I cannot be where I am today had it not been for the school and the Sisters. I was given a free high school education which taught me skills and values and opened doors for more opportunities.”
From dressmaking lessons in the World Villages for Children school, to a career as a tailor - read Yhanyhan’s story.
Yhanyhan was born in the Province of Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao. She was the third child of four siblings. When Yhanyhan was three years old, her mother died aged 29 of tuberculosis. Her father was a driver and mechanic. After Yhanyhan’s mother died he decided it was best for her to live with her aunt, and for her siblings to stay with him. With her father struggling and Yhanyhan experiencing violence and abuse at her aunt’s home, her childhood was very traumatic.
When she heard through her local chaplain about the World Villages for Children (WVC) high school, which is run and operated by the Sisters of Mary, Yhayhan was keen to take the entrance exam for a scholarship.
Learning to sew
Yhayhan said: “Luckily, I was one of those few lucky children who passed the exam and interview. We travelled from Mindanao to Cebu for two days by sea.”
She continues: “I was amazed and felt so much blessed from the first day until we graduated. We got all we needed from the school. From the good food that we ate every day, school supplies, school facilities, school activities, and most especially, the virtues that the Sisters taught me everyone should learn.”
Yhayhan was an active student at school, she loved the arts and was awarded The Best in Arts at her graduation. Her favourite subject though was dressmaking.
She said: “I loved dressmaking so much. And I am proud that it was the school which enhanced my skills in dressmaking.”
Since graduating at the age of fifteen, until today, dressmaking has been her career and main source of income. The job has taken her to countries across the world, and now she is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a tailor.
“This is how far how the WVC school has brought me in to the fashion industry. I am making clothes and foreigners wearing them here in Riyadh. I am very proud!”
Arturo - Arturo’s early life in Monte Blanco, near Cordoba in Mexico was very hard. With no money for food, the family was always hungry and from the age of seven, Arturo was expected to work every day in the fields harvesting coffee and sugar to earn a few pesos to support the family.
In 2005 when he was 12, the Sisters of Mary heard of his difficulties and were able to offer him a place at the school for boys in Guadalajara. At school he was well cared for, properly fed and finally had access to education and healthcare. He was a keen student of English and he taught himself French in his spare time. He also thrived on more practical subjects like bookkeeping, geography and biology.
He graduated from school in 2011. He is now fully qualified as an accountant and after working for IBM has progressed to a role as auditor for Technicolour Film services. He is based in Mexico but travels extensively through Europe on behalf of the company and in October 2018 the charity were thrilled to catch up with him when he visited us whilst on business in London.
Arturo is now the sole support for his mother, father, and other members of his family, providing funds for food and healthcare and lifting them out of their lives of poverty. His family rely on him completely.
"Before, due to the poverty of my family it seemed as an unattainable dream to be able to keep on studying after elementary school, until the Sisters Of Mary came to the town to change my life...I shall never have enough words to thank the people who make possible the mission of the Sisters of Mary, as I am the living proof of how their donation can transform lives" - Arturo
Arturo picking coffee in the fields before he came to us
Arturo (Right) receiving his university degree
Eva was the youngest in a family of eight children living in the slums of Honduras.
Her father was a construction worker but work was unreliable and the family struggled to survive. Living in poverty, begging and scavenging on the rubbish dumps, life was harsh for them all. Instead of attending school the children were working long hours in danger to support themselves.
In 2013, the Sisters of Mary met Eva and, with the generosity of our donors, they were able to provide a place for her at school in Tegucigalpa in January 2014. Eva studied hard at school and in the care of the Sisters she excelled in her subjects. In June 2018, she was awarded the Gold Award for Academic Excellence by President Juan Orlando Hernández, an award for only 12 students in Honduras each year. In July 2018 she represented the school in the regional Maths Olympiad. She went on to win this and then the National Math and Physics Olympiad. Later in 2018 she represented Honduras at the Ibero-American Physics Competition held in Porto Rico.
When Eva first started school she wanted to become a teacher. Now aged 18 and with her new skills in Maths and Science she wants to help her family and ‘bring food for all the poor people in Honduras’ and she has won a full scholarship to Zamorano Agricultural University in Honduras, centre of excellence for agricultural studies in Latin America. She is a shining light at the University and destined for a future professional career that will be ‘of benefit to the most needy communities.’
Eva while she was still at school
In the Philippines Irenea was the eldest of eight children. Her parents had a very basic education, there was little paid work to be found and the family were living a difficult existence, undernourished and vulnerable in the slums of Batangyas in 1990 when the Sisters met them.
With the kindness of our donors, the Sisters were able to provide a place for Irenea at their girls school near Cavite. With proper nourishment and access to healthcare and education Irenea thrived. She graduated from school into work, pursued a business degree and has now grown into a confident and accomplished young woman. She is talented at languages and works as an executive at the Brazilian Embassy in Cavite.
She has supported all her brothers and sisters through college and into work and continues to support her mother and father on a daily basis. She has lifted her entire
family out of poverty.
“I’m so grateful for all that I’ve learned in this school. May many many more poor children and their families be helped by World Villages for Children and the Sisters of Mary.” - Irenea
Irenea at work in the Brazilian Embassy in The Philippines
“My name is Vanessa da Silva Leão and I´m 14 years old and come from Xinguara, state of Pará. I am the second child. I don´t know my eldest sister since she was adopted before I was born. When my mother got pregnant with me she was taking drugs and drinking alcohol. I was born premature and had to
recuperate in an incubator. After four days, she abandoned me in the hospital. Nobody knew where she was.
“My father had no experience of taking care of a baby so he paid a baby-sitter, then he gave me to my uncle and then I was given back to my father again. That´s how my life was, being tossed from one to the other
during my early childhood life. We were living in a simple house on a farm, until my father met my step- mother, a wine drinker. Many times she was so drunk she used to beat me and threw me on the floor. Since then, I was afraid to be with them. Many times, I was hungry and left with no food to eat. At times I was left to sleep outside because they wouldn’t let me in. For this reason, I ran away from them as it was too much. In the end they gave up taking care of me.
“It was so painful to grow up without experiencing the parent’s love of a child. From then on, I transferred from one house to another, from one relative to another. Finally, my aunt shared her home for me. My father and step- mother were living in another state.
“My aunt is very poor but she is generous. I love her and treated her as my mother, but many times but her husband was quite cold and indifferent to me. Many times he spoke harsh words and he was always telling that I didn’t have a future and that I would grow up to be just like my mother. It made me think of running away again but I had nowhere to go.
“In 2017, the Sisters of Mary arrived in our town and I took the entrance test and thanks to God I made it. Now I am in Grade 8 and I love my school. The sisters are very loving. Here I feel what it is to be loved and I have learned how to love. I am learning many things and am gaining more confidence. I realised that I have many talents and I am now learning how to play the guitar.
“This is the brief story of my life. I want to do my best to help my needy neighbor. I hope someday I will become a police-woman so I can work for peace and order so that children can live safely.”