March 21, 2012
The village where Rotse lives has no access to electricity. Sanitation systems are rare and not every house has its own water supply. At 13, Rotse has never seen a television or a cellphone and, if not for Save the Children, would never have seen a camera.
Rotse is from the indigenous tribe of T’boli and speaks the T’boli dialect. Until recently, the Philippine government mandated the use of Filipino in schools, marginalizing children like Rotse. Nevertheless, Rotse loves school. She wakes up every morning when the roosters crow and the first hint of sunshine pierces the sky. Rotse and her family do not own a clock. In her entire life, she has seen only one clock, the one on her classroom wall. She and her family tell time as our ancestors did, by the crow of the rooster and the position of the sun.
After school, Rotse helps her mother and siblings with the chores, then uses the remaining daylight to study lessons she hardly understands – words and sentences that are, to her, in a foreign language.
Rotse’s mother was married when she was only 12, given in exchange for a carabao (a Philippine water buffalo) that her family needed to till the land that was their source of food. With tears in her eyes, she tells us how her parents’ decision changed her life. She recounts the hardships she suffered and is firm in saying she wants something better for her daughter. Rotse seems to share this thought, expressing her desire to finish school and make life better for her family.
We ask Rotse what she wants to be when she grows up. Our translator says, “She wants to be a teacher.” Feeling this is not an accurate translation, we prod the interpreter to tell us more. Finally she relents, “A maid, she wants to be a maid, for the Ilonggo [a wealthier local tribe].” Rotse’s mother and aunt laugh it off, but Rotse’s innocent answer offers a glimpse of how hopeless she feels.
Rotse’s tale is just one story of how children in the Philippines struggle with the poverty that is robbing them of hope. But with your help, Save the Children sponsorship programs can offer children like Rotse a better future – and the courage to dream.
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