Our four schools in the Philippines form a large part of the work of the Sisters. There, childhood poverty levels are still at an alarming level due to persistent inequality of income and low educational attainment. This leads to poor employment opportunities for those who are fit to work, particularly in rural areas.
Poverty in the Philippines varies greatly by region and there is little capacity for reducing the extreme poverty suffered by these sometimes large families. Parents often have to leave their children for long periods in order to earn what little they can to support their families. Many families hold down several menial jobs simultaneously, away from home for days in order to earn enough to buy rice for their family. Countless tiny children wander around their neighborhhods alone and vulnerable.
The Sisters are referred to families in need throughout the country by the local Parish churches and travel to new communities two or three times every week between September and December. They try to reach children living in difficulty and left behind by society, who must beg on the street or sift through garbage dumps to make money to survive.
Thousands of children are living in desperate poverty, vulnerable, and without hope for the future.
For the children the Sisters meet, a place at school and an education with the Sisters would be transformative for them, for their immediate families, and for generations of their loved ones.
The Sisters of Mary meet neighborhood children and families in need
Childhood poverty is extreme in the Philippines. Throughout our programs in this country, demand for places far outweighs supply.
The Sisters have to make very difficult decisions about who they can support with a place at school. Places can only go to those children who are truly in most need of our help and heart-breaking choices have to be made in this process.
With the assistance of local priests, children gather at local churches or schools to meet the Sisters and take a short test to assess their abilities and desire to learn. It is essential to ensure that each child we meet is genuinely in need, so the Sisters spend time with each child and visit them at home. It is important to meet the child's parents or guardians and get to know the family situation, to ensure that both the relatives and the child are prepared for the committment required at the Sisters of Mary school.
If offered a place at the school, children usually start in the following spring.
Thanks to your support, the programs run by the Sisters of Mary throughout the Philippines offer places to over 10,000 children and provide them with full time care, education, and vocational skills.
From ages 12 to 18, in four schools in Cavite and Cebu, boys and girls study for the TVET vocational qualifications as part of the Philippine TESDA National Certificate. This certificate assesses the academic and vocational competencies of our students.
Life at school prepares the children for good jobs with a full range of employers like Samsung, Adidas, Under Armor, etc. The Sisters work hard to cultivate these employment opportunities for the children and have received more and more support from the alumni of the schools in this process. This is particularly evident in the success of the on-the-job training placements that the children undertake in their final year.
Students study electrical engineering at Girlstown
Some of our students are currently in on-the-job training at a company called Regan Industrials, a major employer in Cavite currently providing 60 of our children with training placements. These placements have been facilitated and supported by a 1995 graduate, Evelyn Abalos-Mabalot.
For those children in our care, the contrast with their former life is stark. They are so deeply indebted to our donors for their gift of a chance for a new life.
Thanks to donor generosity, over 150,000 children have graduated from the Sisters of Mary schools since the programs began in the early 1960s. The children thrive with the opportunities they are provided and go on to obtain university degrees, secure jobs, and build successful careers for themselves. They become independent, self-sufficient adults able to focus on lifting their families out of poverty, improving the lives of all who surround them. Bankers, officers at the Department of Agriculture, executives at Embassies - our students owe their success to our supporters. Thank you!
Some of our graduates, whose lives have been changed through the Sisters of Mary schools.