An Enlightening Bus Ride I’ll Never Forget
Education is the key to success in life. Knowing how to read and know how to write is the necessary skills to gain knowledge. Poverty can be an obstacle. The driving force inside a person is a point sign to change his or her life. But if a person is determined in his life to improve, he must do something. There are fears that parents do not care about their family or do not have sufficient confidence in the future of their children for the sake of desire. What would it be if education were secondary to the basic necessities of life, food on the table or shelter, or clothing? What will be the priority? Here is the story of youth that I met on the bus.
Once I rode the bus to attend the national team at school for a program to communicate with the population in a nearby place. Then it would take an hour and a half. The bus sometimes made stops for unloading or receiving passengers. I noticed that several young people come to the bus and sell food, magazines and drinks. One of them asked me to try his “parindus”, which means cooked sweet delicacy. While I was taking my wallet to get money, I thought this boy should go to school and wonder if his parents are responsible for the education of their children. At first I hesitated to buy, but the boy insisted, and he said: "I have to finish the sale of things." I was amazed as if he makes me buy. I asked myself: “Do I have the right to refuse or be forced to buy because of pity?” I decided to buy 3 pieces of “panucha”, a sweet delicacy of colored sugar and nuts. I was struck by his zeal in his struggle for survival. I was not interested in his food, where he came from, and his preparation – rather, I was concerned about his devotion to his work at his age, despite the many dangers that can happen to him on the often noisy streets. Since I have more time to talk with him when I looked at my watch, I wanted to know more about his life, where he came from, and about his family. I asked him if we could talk. The boy agreed. When the conversation continued, I asked the boy to sit next to me to tell me more about his life story. I paid the fare on the bus and enough that he could ride before he returned home.
The boy grew up in a remote area in Tondo, a densely populated area located in Metro Manila. He cannot remember his exact date of birth and place of birth. As far as he remembers, the family moved from one place of residence to another, until he found out around him. Every day, early in the morning, in the first years of his life (about 3-4 years), he accompanied his father, collecting garbage, such as newspapers, metals, plastics and bottles in a wooden cart, and collecting them in bags for delivery to the nearest shop shop that is 30 minutes away. After exchanging materials for the cash value, the father has the means to provide for the family’s nutrition throughout the day. This means that another day is another struggle. A mother also helps with garbage collection during her free time, but mostly she is at home with her children and cooks simple meals and does household chores. This boy was 12 years old, from a family of 12 people (10 children plus 2 parents). He bears great responsibility for his young shoulders as the eldest child. Their youngest is only 5 months old. His father also does the same thing that he does, selling water and nuts on buses in other areas. There is a challenge for him; his mind is set to work and for him to help the needs of the family.
This boy stopped going to school when he was in fourth grade. Public primary education is free, but because of his struggle in life, he could not afford the time spent on academic undertakings, with the necessary money for his family, to pass through them every day. Every day he accompanied his father, who was watching food among the garbage. Despite his circumstances, he still has a strong desire to go to school. His dream to become a teacher is his desire.
Streets can be considered a second home. His work sometimes took him away from home, and he kept dangerous streets at night, sometimes even falling asleep, not paying attention to the inherent dangers.
When this boy approached the bus, many of them were selling different foods. In this group of young people he is the youngest. Despite the age differences, their life circumstances threw them together, and they all became friends – they can all be considered as school youth. Local community leaders gave them such work to help them become independent, especially in the school youth program.
At the end of the journey
Before I knew it, the bus was approaching my destination. I thanked the boy for the time he gave me. I handed him a book to read and another book to write skills at his age. When asked if we could meet again, he replied that he was not sure, but one day he would meet hope. He promised that he would go to school and someday become a teacher. Poverty, as many others have shown, which it seems to him, is not an obstacle to education. Humility has been shown here in history, despite the danger and humiliation. Hard work, regardless of age and decisiveness in all aspects of our life, is the formula for success. Considering a parent raising two children, today there are many young people who are lucky and blessed with proper shelter, food on the table and, most importantly, the opportunity to get an education. Education is free for all and should never be denied to any child, regardless of race, religion or socio-economic status.