22-year-old Ronita lives in a barangay (native Filipino term for a local district), in Quezon City, the Philippines.
She lives with her husband Lean and their two children, Egzy Grey who is 3 years old and Clark who is 5 years old. Ronita’s husband works seven days a week in waste disposal, from 3am to 9pm each day. It is exhausting, laborious work, made harder by the very hot climate. Despite this, Ronita and her husband are only able to rent a very small brick room (measuring around 10 square metres).
Growing up, Ronita’s family faced many challenges. She grew up with her mum, who worked three jobs because Ronita’s father left their family. Ronita has two brothers who married young and never finished school.
It’s very hard for me to go to regular school because my classmates bullied me because my shirt is too old and getting yellowish… The teachers, they need to stand up for us, but they don't. They just laugh with the bullies at me.
Ronita left school when she became pregnant as a teenager. She was at risk of never re-entering the education system when she had her first child, Clark, at 17.
With the support of people like you, Ronita was given a second chance at completing her studies when she heard about the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ), Caritas Australia’s local partners in the Philippines. Through the FCJ’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program, Ronita was able to re-enrol in her studies, and continue learning in a safe and flexible environment – even with the arrival of her second child, Egzy Grey.
After completing the ALS class, Ronita attended senior high school classes. Despite the challenges, Ronita persevered with her studies in this environment. Often, she wouldn’t get enough sleep as she had to take care of her children and study into the early hours of the morning, even skipping lunch at school as she was unable to afford it.
Ronita has now completed her final high school exams and secured a job at a call centre, which required a Grade 12 Senior High School Diploma to apply. She hopes to earn enough income to continue her studies and support her family.
“One day I hope I will be school teacher, just like Ma'am Jen and Ma'am Grace (her former teachers at FCJ),” Ronita said. “I feel hopeful for the future… Now it's not impossible for me to achieve my dream... Thank you for that.”