Poverty is a very common issue here in the Philippines. Being a third world country, many of its citizens suffer from having little to no access to basic necessities. One of these necessities is easy access to a nearby school.
Be it working at an early age or helping with the house work, many Filipino children living at or below the poverty line are burdened with responsibilities that can be too much for them to bear. This is why many poor families prefer to keep their children out of school to lessen their children’s worries and avoid expenses.
This is not the case for grade one student Justin Gargaceran, who attended to his one-year-old sibling while attending class. A photo of him taking down notes in class while holding his brother captured the hearts of many Facebook users.
The photo was posted by her school teacher, Lei, of Salavacion Elementary School in Sorsogon, Bicol Region.
“Ayaw ko po mag-absent, dito ko nalang na lang po kakargahin ang kapatid ko. May trabaho po kasi si lola sa bundok, wala po magbabantay,” the seven-year-old told his teacher in their dialect.
The hashtag #WalangDahilaParaLumiban was posted along with his photo on his school’s Facebook page.
Netizens admired the child’s determination to study despite his family’s difficult situation. Touched by Justin’s story, netizens showered the young boy with praises, saying other students should have the same outlook towards their studies.
Local news network ABS-CBN was quick to pick up Justin’s story. He was featured on Korina Sanchez’ “Rated K,” which got him even more attention from the masses.
Thanks to the show telling Justin’s story, numerous people offered donations to help him and his family out of poverty. In fact, several local government units and private individuals have already extended their generosity by granting Justin and his family a house and lot, groceries, and a stroller for his baby brother.
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Justin’s story shows that with perseverance and the right attitude, anyone can get past life’s trials and tribulations.