By Jeorge Verba, alumnus ANCOP Scholar
“I was raised in a family living in a slum area. Life here is extremely hard, especially for children like me. I have five siblings and my parents do not have stable jobs to support our basic needs. I remember, when I was a kid, I always felt jealous whenever I see other children playing their favorite toys, wearing nice clothes or eating delicious food. I did not experience those things! I rarely played outside because I had to help my mother sell food stuff and other things in order for us to earn a living. Otherwise we would go hungry. Early in the morning I would go around our area to sell “kakanin” and other breakfast items. After class dismissal, I sold goods in front of the elementary school and in mid afternoon, I would again go around the area selling merienda. Aside from this I also did odd jobs like separating yarn from rubber, making mango wrappers out of paper, selling junks, tutoring kids, and helping my classmates with their school projects.
At a very young age, I already knew what hard life means. I realised that in order to survive I had to work hard. In the place where I live, out-of-school youth and teenage pregnancies are very common. The most common work for women, if they’re at all employed, is that of being a housemaid. For men, construction workers. Not that there is anything wrong with these occupations. They’re honest work and a source of income. But not enough to support one’s family. Instead of being discouraged by the things I see around me, I made a resolve. I will pursue my dreams. I told myself that I would escape this vicious cycle of poverty. I promised myself that one day I will be able to achieve my goals and lift my family up from poverty.
From the very beginning, I had already been giving my best in everything that I do, holding on to my dream of a better future. I studied hard while helping my family earn a living. I almost did not have time for myself to enjoy my childhood because there were more important things to do. I had been a consistent honor student and graduated salutatorian in elementary and valedictorian in high school. But being in college was a different game. I know that my family could not financially support me getting a college education. There’s simply no money to pay for expenses. But this did not deter me from the pursuit of my dreams. I enrolled in a public college, not thinking of where to get the money for transportation, food, books, school projects and other school requirements. Desperate of my situation, I was about to give up on college, until an opportunity (a blessing!) came about and changed my life. I received a call from an unknown person, who later turned out to be Tita Mel Balagtas. I was scheduled for an interview for a scholarship program I did not even apply for. I found out that my former high school teachers endorsed me to a scholarship program. The Education Coordinators of CFC ANCOP Las Pinas reviewed my family circumstance, my academic records and recommended me to ANCOP for an educational sponsorship. I officially became one of ANCOP Australia’s scholars on my second year in college.
ANCOP really changed my life! Just when I was losing hope, it picked me up. My benefactors had allowed me to go to school and concentrate on my studies, instead of worrying where to get money for transportation, books and other school expenses. More than the financial aspect, ANCOP also offered a lot of Christian-based activities that strengthened my faith in God. There were extra-curricular activities that let us enjoy and build friendship with other scholars. My coordinators Tito Art and Tita Mel also stood as my second parents who always helped, guided, supported and cheered me on as I journeyed in my college years. I feel so blessed to have a family within the ANCOP community with our titos and titas as parents and my co-scholars as brothers and sisters. I am filled with so much love and happiness.
After several years of hard work and perseverance, I graduated in March 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy. Graduating as a Cum Laude also made the achievement so much more special and satisfying. All my sacrifices have paid off! I am so much grateful to all the people who made my dream a reality. I want to thank them and share my story to them. And above all, I am so much grateful to God, for guiding me in the path I took, and for using a lot of people as instruments to help me.
I always pray to God to bless ANCOP’s work because just like me there are lots of other poor young people out there waiting to be helped. My fervent prayer is that all people behind ANCOP be blessed by God a thousand-fold in return.”
P.S. Jeorge has taken the accountacy board exam and passed it. He is now a Certified Public Accountant!