We often hear parents say that they do not want their children to experience the same struggles as they did. It is most commonly heard from Filipino parents who want to give a more decent and comfortable life for their children. But what happens when it is the child who expresses displeasure of his life?
Tader J. Amuali is a Pantawid Pamilya monitored child from Zamboanga City. Being the youngest in the family of 8, he has seen the difficulties that his parents and his older siblings went through. No one from his family has finished a degree because of poverty. It is as if their lives are meant to constantly paddle to survive or else drown in deep water.
As a kid, he would often see his older siblings help their father in the vast and mostly risky waters of the open sea trying to catch fish for livelihood. At dawn, he sometimes wakes up to the noises of his father arriving with nothing in the basket.
His mother, on the other hand, would take laundry jobs from their neighbors no matter how small it pays only to augment whatever income they get on a daily basis.
In moments like this, he cannot do anything but accept his fate being in poor situation with very less, and sometimes nothing, in life. He would often be seen in the afternoon walking along the shore, looking at the endless horizon of the sea, and thinking about what he can do to help. After all, he is only a kid. What can a 12-year-old kid do help in such a gigantic family struggle?
A CHILD THROWN INTO THE OCEAN
The late afternoon walks led to one life-changing decision that impacted his life, taking away his right to fully enjoy being a kid playing around and learning new skills and knowledge in school. This decision has brought him to sacrifice his freedom, so to speak. He decided to stop going to school and help his father instead. He thought that with his strength being young and able, he would be able to be of help to the family. His school, he thought, will just burden them more.
Every night, while his friends and former classmates are conveniently sleeping in their comfortable mattresses, Tader would be in the ocean making the most of his time. Then he would arrive in the shore very early in the morning to prepare their catch to be delivered to the market. He only gets a few hours to sleep before it is time to work again. This routine has been very exhausting for young Tader.
He felt as if his life as a child was thrown into the ocean and that he needed to learn to swim at a very young age. It did not help as well that the waves were tossing him around and tormenting his current situation.
“Sobrang hirap, mahirap kumita ng pera kahit pangkain lang araw-araw lalo na kapag masama ang panahon o minsan walang huli (It is very difficult, it is hard to earn a living especially during uncontrolled weather situations, sometimes we come home with nothing,)” Tader said as he talks to his Social Worker, the City Link.
Two years have passed and life has not been any easier for young Tader. From time to time, his Social Worker conducts home visits, family counselling, and monitors the over-all well-being of the family. Tader is quite relieved that someone checks on them and he has someone whom he can talk to about his personal struggles.
During one of his conversations with the Social Worker, he mentions that he misses school. Tader, apparently, was an enthusiastic kid in school. He loved learning new things and he says that he finds excitement in gaining new knowledge every day.
Their conversation has transitioned from how he misses attending classes to his personal realizations now that he has already felt the hardships of life. He tells the Social Worker about how he does not want to see himself doing the same thing for his entire life. He wants to do something else. He says that he does not want to regret someday knowing that he could have done so much more.
His first-hand experience of what his father and brothers are going through each day made him realize his aspirations and goals in life. As young as he is, he already knows that he does not want to live his whole life as their present situation.
Tader realized that he cannot do this everyday and expect to swim out of poverty by doing such. And so, with the intervention of the City Link, he reached to a decision that led him back on track. He wants to go back to school.
Just like a paddle that propels the boat forward to its destination, Tader feels like he was given a paddle to move on from the ocean to a better route in reaching his goals. He learned from his Social Worker about several options that he could avail that would let him stay in school.
In 2019, with renewed hope, 14-year-old Tader Amuali enrolled as a Grade 6 pupil. Since then, he has been attending school and does not miss his classes. He advanced to 7th Grade.
Currently, in order to be in school while being able to help his family and at the same time catch up to formal education, he enrolled through the Alternative Learning System or ALS.
ALS is a parallel learning system in the country that provides opportunities for out-of-school youth and adult (OSYA) learners to develop basic and functional literacy skills, and to access equivalent pathways to complete basic education.
Tader’s ALS teacher, Ms. Janet Lasola has also testified to his eagerness to learn and finish his studies.
“Tader is a fast-learner and he submits his modules on time and completely. There is so much potential in the child and you can clearly see that he has a goal to finish,” says Lasola.
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) monitors his progress and ensures that he enjoys and stays in school through the Bata, Balik Eskwela (BBE) campaign. 4Ps provides cash grants for indigent households to support the educational needs of children.
“As a 4Ps child, I want to tell the other 4Ps children like me to strive hard in obtaining education because that is the only way to have a good future, it is the only way out of poverty. If all children will be professionals someday, they can apply for better jobs,” Tader said in a statement.
Because of his experience, Tader pays respect to the fisherfolks and laborers who work day and night to provide for their families. But for now, his plan is to focus on his studies even if it takes walking along the shore with a book on his hand. While it is true that he learned a lot as a fisher kid, what he truly desires as a grown-up man is to become a policeman someday.