“I grew up in a community where life is tough,” says Tricia, a sponsored child in one of Food for the Hungry (FH) recently-graduated communities in the Philippines. And in this tough neighborhood, Tricia’s family was one of the worst off, making her an at-risk youth.
“At a young age, I was given a great responsibility to take care of my siblings,” Tricia continues. “My mother was very sick. Doctors couldn’t determine what her sickness really was. She was in and out of a government hospital which has made our life more difficult.”
Tricia (left) and her mother, at the graduation party for her community.
Furthermore, Tricia’s father made so little money that he could barely cover the cost of food for Tricia, her four younger siblings and her mother. Never mind paying for her mother’s medical expenses.
When FH entered her neighborhood in the sprawling metro Manila slums, Tricia was 10 and the family was at the lowest part of their lives. She was constantly absent from school because she couldn’t pay the fees. She didn’t mingle with the other children because she was afraid that they wouldn’t understand the difficulties she was suffering. So other children labeled her as suplada, or snobbish.
Overcoming, with a little help
Living in a rough part of town “must have contributed to me being a strong person,” Tricia says. Child sponsorship allowed FH to come alongside Tricia and boost her natural abilities.
Seeing Tricia’s God-given gift for resilience, FH selected Tricia to participate in values formation and leadership training via classes at a church. Through these activities Tricia understood that God had not forsaken her and her family, and that He was listening to her prayers.
FH also saw Tricia’s musical gifts. She was selected to travel with 15 other children to Japan for a special World Food Day concert. “I learned a lot about discipline and having good interactions and relationships with others,” Tricia says.
Part of that experience was meeting people who had suffered through the terrible 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident. Survivors of the disaster were in the audience that day. “I was so blessed to be singing to them, as their situation is much harder compared to our situation,” Tricia says. “I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.”
Tricia’s community graduated from FH’s programs in May 2016. She is currently in Grade 11 and plans to finish high school and attend college. Her mother’s health has improved and her father has landed a good job that sustains their family’s needs.
“For God, nothing is impossible,” says Tricia, no longer an at-risk youth.