One Boy’s Dream to Help His Family: Allen’s Story
- By The Global Fund for Children on January 9th, 2013
- Region: East and Southeast Asia, Featured, Success Stories
Laura Vicuña Foundation
Victorias City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
When the job interviewer asked Allen what he wanted to be doing in five years, he knew exactly what to say. Instead of describing a particular position, he spoke of his loved ones:
“I replied that I wanted to have a stable job that would allow me to help my family,” he recalls.
In Negros Occidental, where Allen lived with his parents and seven siblings, many families struggle to survive, living in abject poverty and lacking proper shelter, running water, and sanitary sewers. The region is home to thousands of agricultural laborers, and children regularly work alongside their parents to help support their families.
Growing up, Allen contributed to his family’s income however he could—by working at a sugarcane plantation for hours under the hot sun, or by helping his mother in the rice fields. When he was in fifth grade, he and his sister earned a meager income peddling rice cakes in their village.
It was around this time that Allen started visiting a youth center run by the Laura Vicuña Foundation (LVF), a Global Fund for Children grantee partner working in his community. From that point on, Allen’s life began to change.
LVF offers a variety of programs to vulnerable children, including initiatives to help child laborers gain the education and training they need to lead better lives. At the youth center, Allen received training in children’s rights and soon became an advocate, working with LVF to educate children, parents, and plantation owners about children’s rights.
“They made us aware of our rights . . . turning us into advocates for our own cause,” Allen says. “It gave me a sense of significance knowing that at my tender age, there is something that I could do to help other children like me.”
Though Allen continued to work while attending school, he was determined to give his younger siblings a better life, and to relieve the burden on his mother, who by this time had separated from his father.
The staff at LVF knew Allen could be successful if given the chance—so when Allen graduated from high school, LVF provided him with ten months of training in the garment trade. A few months later, LVF connected him to another opportunity: the chance to train in the hotel industry in Manila.
Allen thrived in his training and was hired by the hotel, which usually hires university graduates. Now, Allen continues to advance his career; having worked in a variety of departments, he recently transferred to the front office.
“Everyone was welcoming, and the people around me helped in my learning process,” he says. “I know God has plans for me. I won’t stop here.”
When Allen looks back on the interview that landed him the hotel job, he recalls his answer to that first question. Though he continues to set goals, Allen has achieved the goal that initially inspired him: he has already supported vocational training for two of his sisters so they can find similar success.
LVF’s educational and vocational programs are only part of the organization’s extensive work in child protection and development. A GFC grantee partner since 2005, LVF reaches more than 2,000 children annually—children who, like Allen, are born into poverty but have unlimited potential.
LVF received a Maya Ajmera Sustainability Award from GFC in 2011, and GFC successfully recommended LVF for the prestigious Protection Impact Award from the STARS Foundation in 2012. This award came with a $100,000 prize in recognition of LVF’s contributions to protecting vulnerable children in the Philippines.