Ricky is getting used to formatting laptops. The 21-year old already knows his way with operating systems, software, and key combinations. He has been one of Childhope’s go-to persons whenever its laptops needed fixing.
Ricky is on his 3rd year pursuing a degree in Information Technology (I.T.). He continues to be fascinated with how computers work and the different data and software. He is very determined to explore how he can use technology to his advantage.
Ricky still has more to learn, but he has gone a long way. He used to be a street child who would go to PISO-NETs (computer shops where people can use a computer for a peso) around Pier 15 South Harbor Manila just so he can use a computer.
“Tumitingin tingin ako dati sa mga piso nets kung paano nila ginagamit yung computer, yung mouse. May mga nakikita akong gumagawa ng resume at nag-Youtube. Doon ako natuto (I just wandered around piso nets to look at how people were using the computers and the mouse. I saw people doing resumes or watching Youtube videos. That’s how I learned to use the web and the computer),” Ricky said.
The curious young Ricky had no idea then that he will soon be working on computers and the internet for his career goals.
ALTERNATIVE LEARNING OPENS OPPORTUNITIES
Ricky grew up as a street child in Pier 15 South Harbor Manila. He and his grandmother, father, uncle, and cousins got by even without a permanent place they could call home. His father tried his best to provide for the family with the little he earned as a cigarette vendor. Ricky never knew his mother since his parents have been separated since his birth.
“Nakatulong din po ako sa mga bayarin sa bahay kahit papaano nung nirefer po ako ng Lola ko sa kakilala niya at nagtrabaho ako bilang baby sitter. Nagaaral po ako nang 3rd year high school pero kinailangan ko pong tumigil dahil nagkasakit po si Lola at hindi kakayanin ng budget (“I was able to help pay some of our expenses when I worked as a baby sitter after my grandmother referred me to someone she knew. I was already in 3rd year high school but I had to stop attending school because my grandmother got sick and we had to pay for her medicines),” Ricky said.
Ricky was invited by one of his cousins to join and attend Childhope’s mobile education van sessions in Ermita, Manila. Ricky was hesitant at first, but was convinced when he found out that there was a feeding program and they will be given groceries. He was happy for he had something to bring home to his family.
Since then, Ricky was drawn to Childhope’s alternative education sessions. He learned from Childhope’s street educators the importance of his rights and responsibilities as youth, the basics of proper hygiene, and important values like friendship, team work, determination, and patience. The street educators saw Ricky’s potential, and guided him in becoming a child leader and an active participant in the sessions. Soon, he was part of the batch of Childhope beneficiaries attending the alternative learning system classes.
“Ang daming modules na tinuturo sa ALS, minsan parang mas marami pa sa school. Na-expose kami sa maraming topics tungkol sa pagkatao (There were a lot of modules in the ALS sessions, sometimes more than what they have in formal schools. We were exposed to different topics on holistic development),” Ricky said.
“Pero gusto ko talagang makatapos ng pagaaral. Hindi pwedeng pakalat kalat lang, kailangan ko ayusin ang buhay ko (I really wanted to finish my studies. I realized that I could not just go on wandering around, I had to change and fix my life for the better),” said Ricky.
Ricky finished all the ALS sessions. But when it was time for him to take the exams to know if he can move forward to college, he had a lot of doubts and fears. He was not planning on taking the exam, but his cousin was bent on persuading him and gave him PHP 100.00 just so he can go to the testing center.
Out of the 10 street children participants of Childhope who took the ALS examination, only Ricky was able to pass the level for high school. He was qualified to go to college.
TECHNOLOGY AND DREAMS
“Halo halo yung naramdaman ko. Masaya at hindi makapaniwala na nakapasa. Pero kinabahan ako kasi ano na ang susunod na mangyayari, wala naman kaming pera na pang-college ko (I had mixed emotions. I was happy and I could not believe that I passed the exam. But at the same time, I got scared. I wondered what will happen next. I knew we did not have enough money for me to go to college),” Ricky said.
Through his hard work and the help of generous sponsors, Ricky became a beneficiary of Childhope’s Educational Assistance Program. He continues to maintain good grades in Access Computer and Technical College while being an active child leader, giving back in his small ways by assisting in teaching fellow street children like him.
Ricky describes his schedule as ‘hectic,’ as he and his batch mates are already working on their thesis. If not for the Dell laptops he has been using, Ricky says he could not imagine how he would be able to finish all his requirements for school.
“Ang Childhope, sa partnership nila sa Dell, ay nagpapahiram sa aming mga EAP beneficiaries ng laptops na maaari naming gamitin sa school. Ang laki ng tulong niya kasi lahat ng files, programs na ginagamit ko ay nandoon. Minsan nagtataka yung mga kagrupo ko, saan ko daw nakuha yung laptop (Childhope, through its partnership with Dell, lends EAP beneficiaries the laptops they can use for school. It helps us a lot because all the files and programs I need are there. Sometimes, my classmates wonder how I was able to get a laptop),” Ricky said.
Ricky’s top priority now is to finish his studies, and hone his skills in programming and information technology. He also plans to gain skills and knowledge in all types of designing --- from web design to fashion and interior design. Nieco believes that in the long run, his education will enable him to provide a better life for his family.
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