Several years ago there was a young girl sorting through garbage on her hands and knees. She was picking through the scraps thrown away by the rest of the City, for a meagre amount of money so her family could eat a bowl of rice with soy sauce, or fish sauce, or some other dressing that day. Picking up wet pieces of paper, plastic bottles, metal scraps, she would sift through everything with a certain expertise, knowing where everything should go.
Sometimes when she would get home there was no electricity. It was too hot in the area and she and her family would have to sleep along the streets with other families from their cramped and crowded street.
The place smelled, but she was used to the smell by now. Many passers-by complain about the smell here in Payatas, especially in the junk shops, but you get used to it. Like so many things children shouldn’t have to get used to.
This girl had dreams, but she did not think they were possible. Most people around her never manage to achieve the first steps. They work hard, they study hard, but there are too many things blocking their way. She did not think she would be able to finish High School. Until she did. She did not think she was capable of finishing Senior High. Until she did. She did not think she was capable of coaching groups of kids from her community. Until she did. And she did not think she was capable of getting a University scholarship to one of the best schools in the country. Until she did.
With every step along the journey, the dream got bigger and bigger. For herself. For her family. She joined the football program first and gradually became a good player. She was chosen as part of Team Philippines at the 2014 Street Child World Cup, and as she learned to coach in the community, she was in the best position to coach Team Philippines for the 2018 Street Child World Cup in Russia. Each step proved that she could go a little further, and believe in herself a little more.
Ronalyn’s success is a story that took years of investment to achieve. The great things she has done and the great things she has been part of are milestones on a long journey. She was always capable of going this far, she always had that potential. But she needed us to level the playing field so she would have a fairer chance of doing this. She needed the social support, through mentoring, youth groups, and social activities. She needed the sports and mentoring to continue to grow and push herself and build a positive mindset; to coach other kids and handle responsibility,. She needed the nutritional support from the Cafe, to combat malnourishment. And she needed financial support, including an education sponsorship provided by a kind couple in Australia, an Australian man and Filipina. Without any one of these parts, the whole chapter may not have been written.
Ronalyn, of course, has the potential to continue pushing and to go even further as a role model in the community. Already the younger kids looked up to her when she was coaching. Once she graduates and comes back for some time, she will be an even bigger inspiration.
Ronalyn and her family are not victims. Nor are the other families around them. They work hard. They try their best. There are obstacles in the way, put up by the rest of society. But we can help bring those obstacles down, we can help level the playing field so they can show how well they can play. This is what can happen when we do things the right way.
“No matter where you came from and what hardships you’ve been through, learn how to turn hardships into opportunities and make something out of nothing because things don’t come easily, they need a lot of effort. Always be grateful to the people who help you and make them feel that what they are doing is always worth it, treasure every opportunity you have, and make the best of it.” – Ronalyn
Ronalyn is now enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas as part of the Varsity Football Team. As the coach of Team Philippines for the 2018 Street Child World Cup she also earned a scholarship through the Kulczyk Foundation who support the team. Over the weekend she got a goal and an assist in her first game for the team. She is studying for her Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Science and has already spoken about her hopes of heading the sports program at Fairplay when she graduates.
Ronalyn, along with her sister Rose Marie and a few others, are now the first Fairplay sponsored students to go to University. We have tweaked our sponsorship system to better support them and the future scholars and to make the whole program effective. An email will be sent to everyone in the Education Sponsorship Program (ESP) in the coming days with more details.
For those reading who aren’t yet part of the education sponsorship program here at Fairplay, you can join the growing number of people supporting the future of kids like Ronalyn. You can donate P1,000 ($20) per month to help us level the playing field for children in Payatas.
Contact Us for more information.