August 7, 2011
February 5, 2011
I spoke with Leah last night. It was early evening in Fairbanks, noon in Sinacaban.
At first, we had a hard time talking over the noise of barking dogs in her neighborhood. We shared news. Her mother remains paralyzed on her left side. She can longer eat solid food. Leah said she has to blend everything, even rice, to feed her mother.
She’s happy because she got another temporary teaching job at a private school, Medina College, in Ozamis City. She teaches K-1 and K-2 in the morning and K 3-5 in the afternoon. The salary is much lower than a public school job. She makes 5,550 pesos (about $110/month) compared to the 17,000 pesos with benefits she would make at a public school.
Leah has taught as five schools in the past three years since her college graduation. Twice she was in line for a public school position. Twice local politics and nepotism blocked the path to her dream.
On Feb. 18, the administration will meet again. There are two open positions in her local school. It’s Leah’s turn. She’s daring to dream once more.
When she had a temporary public school job, Leah was able to pay for her mother’s medicine and medical bills. She paid for her brother Benjy’s college tuition. He was studying criminal justice and planned to have a career as a police officer. She made improvements to their small cinder block home, including indoor plumbing and a C.R. (comfort room, i.e. toilet). I joked and told her that I didn’t have a C.R.; I explained the outhouse behind my cabin.
“You don’t have to go very far in the cold, do you?” she asked.
She’s grateful for her job at the private school, but Benjy had to quit his studies. He just started a new job as a janitor. Working six days a week, he’ll earn about the same salary as Leah, 5,500 pesos/month.
“Pray for me please, Cheryl.”
Leah asked me to pray that her dream will come true, that she can get a teaching job in a public school. She’ll have a salary that will support her family. Her brother will be able to resume his studies. She’ll have benefits and a classroom of her own.
That’s always been Leah’s dream.
“I don’t want to be a principal or an administrator. I want to be a teacher in my own classroom,” she said.
Please join me in praying for Leah, praying that the dream she’s worked so hard for, the dream she’es held on to for years, will come true.
September 14, 2010
Leah still has not received payment for the two months she covered for a teacher on maternity leave. Here’s what she wrote me in an e-mail I received today:
“I went to the Division office in Oroquieta City because my assets and liabilities has no sworn statement from the lawyer. They can’t process my salary so I went to the Public Attorney’s Office because it’s free unlike in a private lawyer. The Division office told me to leave my cellphone number so that they could inform me if there are some discripancy of my papers but they didn’t, when I texted them asking if I could get my salary that was the time they told me Oh, should come here because there’s no sworn statement in your assets and liabilities. They promise they will just text me when to get my salary.”
To make ends meet, Leah sold her pig for income. Now she’s got another job substitute teaching at a private school. She still wants to get a job in a public school.
“There’s no news yet about the job in a public school. I hope soon..
I love you and I miss you…Take care and God Bless….Love, Leah”
September 1, 2010
I’ve been waiting to post the exciting news that Leah had received her public school teaching position. Sadly, she didn’t.
Leah taught two years at a private elementary school with the dream of securing a government job in a public school. The public school position offers the security of a lifetime appointment, benefits and a salary that is nearly triple what she earned at the private school.
She did everything right. She was number three on the waiting list. The first two candidates had received their job postings. She was next. She did not renew her private school contract. Instead she accepted an offer to fill in for a teacher who took maternity leave. She was told she’d have the next available position at the school.
When the position became available, the school administrator awarded it to someone who had family connections to the local mayor or the school administrator (I can’t remember which now). The person who got Leah’s job was ranked 11th on the waiting list, eighth behind Leah.
Leah said she cried and cried when she learned she’d been passed over. She hasn’t yet received her salary for the two months she served as a substitute. Her family went without electricity for a while because Leah didn’t have the money to pay the bill. She sold their pig to secure funds to help with expenses.
Leah doesn’t complain, though. She takes action. She went to the governor’s office and explained her situation. She asked for a teaching position and she’s been promised one in a school in a neighboring village. She said: “God is always taking care of me.”
She wants a job in a school near her village so she can stay in her home and continue to care for her aging mother and her two brothers. She’s helping pay for her brother’s education now.
When I posted this news on Facebook, my friend, Michelle Jolin, left the following comment:
“We’re so lucky on so many levels–including the one in which most of us get through life without ever having to pay a bribe or worry about such entrenched nepotism that you can’t get a decent education or a good job without powerful friends helping you.”
Leah refuses to pay a bribe. She said she knows it would make the path easier; however, she doesn’t believe in bribery. She has faith in God, herself and her hard work.
I am so proud of Leah. She has faced obstacles ever since she returned to college 15 years after she’d left high school to earn money for her family after her father died. She continues to believe and to push for what she wants, what she’s earned. I look forward to the day I can write a post announcing Leah’s new job.
And I’m so grateful to my friends and all who support Isis Initiative.
August 7, 2010
I was excited to collect a registered letter from the Philippines this week. Leah visited Marethel Guinsayao at Western Mindanao State University in Dumingag. Marethel is the first recipient of a scholarship from Isis Initiative, Inc. She lives in a remote area on the Zamboanga Peninsula on Mindanao. Communication has been sketchy throughout her first semester at university.
Leah made the long trip by bus to pay her tuition and take photographs of Marethel and her school for us.
Leah wrote: “I think she tries her best to get good grades for her grades last semester are not so good. She asked an apology and told me that, that was because everything was new to her…We’ll just wait and see her performance this semester.”
We’re happy to support Marethel and wish her all the best as she pursues her dream to become an elementary school teacher.