Friday, January 15, 2016

For kids in a town called Marilao, a Bag of Hope springs eternal

For some parents, choosing a school is a no-brainer – usually, the one closest to home is the one. But for two women in Marilao, Bulacan, picking a school for their young ones turned out to be a rather complicated decision. 

No notebooks, no school?

Lola Rosalinda Duldulao says her grandson, Lawrence, along with his four other siblings, were put under her care after their parents went on separate ways. As their guardian and grandmother, she says she wants the best school she could afford for her grandchildren, but at the moment, her income as laundry washer is not enough to buy notebooks and pens for them. Lawrence, 11, is one of the top students in fifth grade, but he almost missed his chance to enroll because money was tight.

From 2007 to 2010, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies issued a paper looking into the most consequential barriers to primary education. Dire poverty is still cited as one of the culprits—children not having a classroom, or money for transportation or school supplies, are some of the main reasons for inability to go to school. Over the last four years, the government kept a steady focus on closing the classroom gap. Still, some work has to be done to cover for the rest of the students’ needs.

Luckily, Lola Rosalinda found the best option for her grandson, after inquiring in four public schools in their community in Marilao, Bulacan. She settled on one -- Lias Elementary School – after knowing she wouldn’t have to spend on school supplies.

“I decided to enroll Lawrence at Lias Elementary School after the principal told me the school would be receiving free school bags with supplies for the students. My husband and I can’t really afford to buy the notebooks and pencils for our grandchildren,” said Lola Rosalinda.
And just like her, the parents of another student also had trouble sending their daughter, Bernadeth, to school. Rolando and Rosalie Derder have 11 children, with Bernadeth being the 10th child.

“We are struggling with our finances because all of our children are studying. I work as a laundry washer and my husband is a traffic enforcer, but still, it’s near impossible to save enough money to provide for our 11 children,” shared the mother, Rosalie. She said that even though times are hard, she still tries to push for Bernadeth to go to school.

“Bernadeth is a top student – in fact, she was one of the Grade 6 students who were chosen to teach English to younger kids in Lias Elementary School. I don’t want her to stop going to school just because we can’t afford to get her notebooks, paper and pencils,” she further shared.
Help comes in a bag

Lawrence and Bernadeth are two of the 800 students in Lias Elementary School who received bags filled with school supplies donated by Convergys employees. The company, which is the country’s largest private employer, launched the “Give A Bag of Hope” campaign in May 2015. It is a nationwide employee-driven program, which seeks to address a basic challenge faced by public elementary school students—the lack of school supplies. This is also aligned with one of the company’s focus areas for philanthropy – which is to remove barriers to stability and improve quality of life. 

Lias Elementary School is a partner of one of the company’s sites, specifically Convergys North EDSA. “The bags of hope allow them to better participate in school, and give them a fighting chance at their education,” explains Angeli Cabrera, the Site Director. Convergys North EDSA employees selected the school because Marilao is one of the areas where many of them live. The public school has a good number of students from indigent families, and for whom the program will make a difference.

Convergys empowered 60,000 employees in 34 different sites across the Philippines to make a difference by giving ‘bags of hope’ to children in the partner public schools right in their respective local communities. Employees donated through several ways: aside from a monetary pledge and actual donation of school supplies, each successful referral also resulted to a bag of hope donated in both the employee’s and new hire’s name.

“This is the first time that a private company has come to Lias Elementary School to donate school supplies directly for the students. It is very helpful because most of them do not have money for jeepney fare or for lunch, much less for notebooks and pens,” said school principal Esperanza P. Magnetico.

Magnetico said apart from Give A Bag of Hope, there are also other student support programs that they are planning to implement through their partnership with Convergys.

“We believe that the ability to go to school is a fundamental enabler of stability, quality of life and future opportunities for the Filipino youth. We hope that even with the simple way of donating bags of hope, we can help children from poor families overcome the barriers that prevent them from studying,” said Cabrera.

For more information, visit the Convergys Philippines Facebook page: #ConvergysPH #GiveABagofHope

Also watch the Give A Bag of Hope video on Youtube:

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