Growing up in the Philippines, Rachel longed to become a nurse but assumed it would never happen because of her family’s poverty. World Vision started helping her when she was 7. Eleven years later, she’s set to become the first person in her family to attend college.
As a young girl growing up in the Philippines, Rachel used to play doctor, diagnosing a teddy bear with a toy stethoscope and dreaming of growing up to become a nurse. But she never thought it could happen because of the poverty her family lived in.
Her father, Pablito, sold fish. He wouldn’t return home until all his fish were sold, because he couldn’t afford food for his wife and their five children. Sometimes, when the kids returned home from school for lunch, they met an empty table.
“We did not go back to school,” Rachel says. “It is our practice to be absent when we have no lunch.”
At times, their dilapidated, old house would leak, forcing the family to huddle in a corner to stay dry.
“Only the children could sleep lying on a mat,” Rachel says. “My parents would sleep sitting. I saw them do that many times. It was painful to see them that way.”
Rachel saw her family’s struggle and assumed her nursing dreams would never happen.
Her mother, 47-year-old Linda, recalls conversations she had with her daughter.
“She once told me, ‘Ma, I think I cannot continue school because I know we cannot afford it,’” Linda says. “That was painful for me. Any mother would cry to hear her child say that. I wanted her to go to school, finish college, fulfill her dream. But I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Linda had also longed to pursue a nursing career but abandoned that dream when she had to drop out of school after sixth grade. Her limited education also restricted her job prospects. To support her children, she works as a street sweeper, working three days a week to earn $18 a month. On her off days, she does others’ laundry to earn $4 a day.
The help Rachel needed came when at 7 years old Rachel received a sponsor through World Vision — an American doctor named Connie. She sent letters and wrote about her career, encouraging Rachel to follow her dream.
As a sponsored child, World Vision helped Rachel pursue her education. In elementary school, she received much-needed school supplies her family couldn’t afford. When she was in high school, World Vision assisted with her school tuition fees, which were even more difficult for her family to afford after Rachel’s dad died.
World Vision’s assistance enabled Rachel to not just stay in school but also earn her high school diploma this year. But her dream doesn’t stop there. Due to the generosity of her sponsor, who sent an extra gift, Rachel will become the first person in her family to attend college. Linda cried when she learned her daughter will pursue her nursing dreams.
“I thought I would never reach college,” Rachel says. “None of my family has reached college.”
Her older sister earned her high school degree, and her older brother dropped out after third grade.
“I thought my fate would also be like theirs,” she says.
“If not for my sponsor, I would have followed my older sister’s work — a housemaid.”