Children's Story

Joel’s Story

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Student with Sister at Transforming Education Summit, Manila

Transforming Education

Joel graduated from Minglanilla Boystown, the Philippines in 2022. In the months before he left, Joel was invited to speak at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in Manila, Philippines.

Early life

Joel had a difficult start to life. He comes from a loving family in the Philippines, but his father is a poor fisherman and his mother a housewife who does odd work to help support their family. The family struggled for basic necessities and it was a big sacrifice for Joel to go to Cebu to complete his secondary school.

Life at school

“I truly discovered the talents and capabilities that I thought I didn’t possess. I served as a class mayor of our section from grade 7 until 9. I also served as a commander of the CAT officers for almost four years. I became a photojournalist for one year. Until I became the president of the whole student body of the school. I am also privileged to attend the Stakeholders’ Convergence: UN Transforming Education Summit 2022 held at Pasay City.”

Joel is stepping out into the world as a new graduate with so many opportunities that he would not otherwise have, if it were not for the quality education the Sisters of Mary School gave him.

A group of photos of graduates arranged int he shape of a heart

Alumni Stories

The impact of our work is increased when the children graduate from the programmes. They are keen and motivated to acknowledge the opportunities they received and ensure they share their good fortune to help the future generations at the school onto greater productivity. They support boys and girls currently at the schools and graduates in need of help.

They also help the Sisters with programme delivery, teaching, extra-curricular support, on the job training opportunities, jobs and with their outreach work in the community to reach new children in need. Their support is inspirational for the children at school, a lifeline for the Sisters and for graduating children and has been invaluable during the current pandemic.

Alumni associations have been developed by these graduates in many of the countries, particularly the Philippines and Mexico, to provide more structured support for graduates and for the Sisters. In the Philippines the alumni organisation is ASMSI and in Mexico, Gravini.

Photo of girl
Chalco Girlstown

Lety’s Story

Lety is a graduate of the Sisters of Mary school in Chalco, Mexico. Her life was transformed by the kindness of the Sisters and the support of our donors. Now a member of the alumni group for Mexico she is helping other graduates and students at the school to find work and make their way in the world.

Luisa with her family and Sister Maria inside a wooden hut
Zona 13 Villa de las Niñas

Luisa’s Story

Luisa was born into poverty. Her mother abandoned her and her brother. Despite this hardship, Luisa was determined to study and leave her life of poverty. She eventually found her way to our school.

three nurses in pale blue scrubs and medical caps smiling at the camera
Brasilia Girlstown

Daiane’s Story

After a difficult early life Daiane thrived in the care of the Sisters at our school in Brasilia. She focused on working hard to make the most of the opportunity. During her time there she developed a passionate interest in nursing and became a part of the school’s Nursing studies group. She graduated in December, 2015.

Girl sewing

Shamin’s story

Shamin is 19 and from a small family in Tanga, Tanzania. Without money to pay for education Shamin had few prospects for the future.

Sherlyn with Sister Margie and student

Sherlyn’s Story

Sherlyn grew up in one of the poorest towns in the Philippines. 17 years after finishing her college degree, Sherlyn works and travels with the Sisters of Mary, helping other children like her out of poverty.

Woman running in a blue World Villages for Children top in Qatar

Rossyle’s Story

Rossyle grew up in a rural farming family in the Philippines, near Manila. Ross is the middle child of five, and the only girl. Her family couldn’t afford her education and Ross turned to the Sisters of Mary for her education.

Felipe with his fellow doctors

Felipe’s Story

I grew up in a poor family in the Mexican countryside. School was always important to our parents and so they made it possible for me to attend primary school regularly.

Irena standing beside the Brazilian embassy logo

Irenea’s Story

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.

Arturo in assembly as a student

Arturo’s Story

Arturo’s early life in Monte Blanco, 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.

Clara sitting in outdoor garden wearing a blue jumper and pink scarf
Zona 13 Villa de las Niñas

Clara’s Story

Clara is a graduate of Villa de las Ninas and is now a maths and physics teacher there. Clara comes from Sololá, from a poverty-stricken family and is one of 10 children.

Evelyn - with on the job trainees

Evelyn’s Story

Evelyn is one of our first graduates from the Philippines. She was the eldest of five children born in the slums of Manaoag, Pangasinan. Her early life was very hard and she had little hope for the future until she was referred to the Sisters of Mary in 1991.

Headshot of Jerome wearing a red t-shirt

Jerome’s Story

Jerome was the eldest of four children, living in Mindanao, South of Manila. The area accounts for a third of the Philippines’ poor. His parents had little education and worked at menial jobs to try to sustain their family. There was rarely enough money for food.

Merlie sitting at her work desk working on paperwork

Merlie’s Story

Merlie was born the fifth of nine children and she had an impoverished childhood growing up in the province of Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines. Unstable rural work was the family’s only source of income and her future looked bleak.

Luis standing amidst selves in his warehouse

Luis’s Story

After graduating Luis went on to study Business Administration and from there, started a master’s degree in Formulation and Evaluation.

Father Fretch sitting at a table
Minglanilla Boystown

Fr Fretch’s Story

Fretch came to the Sisters of Mary School Boystown in Minglanilla, Cebu in April 2002 and after taking Holy Orders now lives in the UK and works as a Priest in the North of England.

Two men in an office

Fr. Ritche’s Story

We met Fr. Ritche earlier this year and were thrilled to catch up with him and learn about his experience at school and his life here in the UK

Student with Sister at Transforming Education Summit, Manila
Minglanilla Boystown

Joel’s Story

Joel comes from a poor family in the Philippines, he had to borrow the bus fare to come to school. He came to the Sisters of Mary knowing that it was his best chance of a better future. Joel has recently graduated from Minglanilla Boystown and represented his school at the 2022 UN Transforming Education Summit in Manila.

“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 Mexico

“Honestly, without the excellent education provided for me by World Villages for Children, I would not be where I am now with my job and my ability to help my family live a better life.”

Luis Guatemala

“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 Philippines
Jony working on a laptop at his desk
Adlas Boystown

Jony’s Story

Jony is one of the earliest graduates from the first Sisters of Mary school in the Philippines. He treasured his opportunity at school and credits it with turning his life around. He now helps to return the vital support he received by employing new students as they graduate from the schools. Nearly 90% of his current staff are graduates of the boystown and girlstown schools in Cavite.


A picture of Junillo with his wife and four children

Junillo’s Story

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.

Laura wearing a baseball cap

Laura’s Story

Laura was born in Yucatan in Mexico. Only 2000 people in her village and most earned their living by fishing including her father.

Luis standing amidst selves in his warehouse

Luis’s Story

After graduating Luis went on to study Business Administration and from there, started a master’s degree in Formulation and Evaluation.

Manuel with a microphone at a school assembly

Manuel’s Story

Manuel entered the Sisters of Mary school for boys in Mexico as a deprived and vulnerable young boy in 2002.

Melvin in chefs whites with his students

Melvin’s Story

He graduated in 2005 and with the help of the Sisters found a position as a culinary assistant at the Marriott Hotel in Cebu and soon worked his way up developing his skills along the way.

Dora teaching her class

Dora’s Story

Dora had a very difficult early life. Her single mother struggled to support them by selling bread by the roadside to raise money for her and her five brothers and sisters. Despite this there was never enough food. Thanks to the support of our donors in 2003 Dora was offered a place at the Sisters of Mary Girls school in Guatemala.

Eva smiling at a desk

Eva’s Story

Eva was the youngest in a family of eight children living in the slums of Honduras.

David wearing a suit

David’s Story

David is from a small farming community in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. In his community everyone is dedicated full time to farming and agriculture. Boys and girls traditionally get married very young because they don’t have access to education or any hope of a better future

Alex with work colleagues in an office

Alex’s Story

Alex was born in the slums of Quezon City, Philippines. He was the middle child of three. At the age of 4 his parents separated and his father left, leaving the children in the care of his mother. A meeting with the Sisters of Mary and the chance of a place at their school in the Philippines has changed his life.