“Gusto ko talaga silang magkatrabaho, ‘yung magkaroon ng trabahong maayos para ‘pag, halimbawa, sa future nila maging hindi namang kagaya nito. ‘Yung maiba naman – na makita ko na umuunlad sila, pagdating ng panahon na makakatapos sila. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Magsikap kayo. Gusto ninyong umalis dito sa lugar na ‘to? Kaya n’yo. Basta magsikap kayo. Kaya n’yo.’”
“I really want them to be able to find jobs, good jobs, so that their future won’t be like this. One day I will see them live differently – lead better lives and graduate. I tell them, ‘Work hard. You want to get out of this place? You can do it. Just work hard. You can do it.”
— Lola Susana, guardian of Hungry Minds 4th grader, Samantha
Shielded from sunlight, a dark and narrow pathway winds through a row of small, adjoining houses made of scraps of wood and other light materials. What used to be an alleyway, situated in between two buildings leading to the Pasig River, has now become a bustling community of informal settlers and their makeshift homes. In a cramped and dimly-lit house in this neighborhood of Pandacan, Manila lives Lola* Susana, an on-call errand runner and Lolo* Antonio, a cigarette vendor and jeepney barker.** Across their home, the area that used to be their old bathroom has been renovated into a living space with a small sleeping area on the second floor. Here lives their daughter, her husband, and their five children, including Samantha, a current 4th grader at Food for Hungry Minds.
Samantha, a tenacious nine-year-old, was determined to attend Hungry Minds after hearing about the school from her friends. Captivated by the prospect of an intensive and competitive education, along with the provision of food, transportation, books, uniforms, and other miscellaneous school needs, Samantha saw an opportunity for a better life. Encouraged and supported by her grandparents, she persistently applied to the school and is now almost finished with her first month at Hungry Minds.
Lola Susana shares her dreams to see Samantha and her other grandchildren graduate and receive a good education. She wholeheartedly believes that this is the way for them to rise above their challenging circumstances and lead better lives. As such, her devotion to Samantha’s education is undeniable. Every morning, she buys her grandchildren food and irons their school uniforms before they leave for school, expressing that she wants their ironed clothes and full stomachs to be a reflection of the love and care that surrounds them at home.
“Ayaw kong may masasabi ang tao sa kanila. Gusto kong sabihin nila na, ‘Ang ganda ng damit niya, plantsado!’ kasi ibig sabihin niyan hindi sila pinababayaan sa loob ng bahay.”
“I want people to see my grandchildren and say ‘Wow, their clothes are so neat and ironed!” because it means that they’re being cared for at home.”
Because of her grandparents’ unrelenting support, Samantha has now also adopted their dreams of receiving a good education. She is dedicated to her Hungry Minds schooling, never failing to wake up at 4 o’clock every morning to get ready for school and making sure to finish her assignments immediately after getting home.
With her continued hard work and perseverance, along with the encouragement of Lola Susana and Lolo Antonio, Samantha is now taking her first steps towards making her and her grandparents’ dreams come true.
*In Filipino, Lola means grandmother and Lolo means grandfather.
**A jeepney barker is a person who calls passengers for jeepneys, a common form of public transportation in the Philippines.