Published Tue, Nov 13, 18. Written by Teresa Anderson.
In 2015, Ethel and her family had nothing but a damaged jeepney for shelter. Jeepneys are a popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. They had been living in these conditions for over eight years.
Her parents separated when she was just one year old, which left her in the care of her mother and later on, her step-father. At one point, the family had a small hut where everyone lived, but was destroyed by an earthquake. Ethel’s family also tried to rent a house, but were unable to with her step-father’s small income as a jeepney driver. With her family’s current living conditions and struggles, Ethel’s education was not a top priority.
Most of the time, Ethel was left at home to help her mother with chores and caring for her three younger half-siblings. When her older siblings would leave for school, Ethel often wished there was a way she could go along. But, no one knew a way to explain to her why she couldn't go. Often, Ethel would sneak her siblings’ paper and pencil and try to imitate the letters she saw her brothers and sisters writing. She was very excited when her older siblings taught her how to write her name!
Ethel’s aunt saw her deaf sister-in-law thrive at the IDEA Bohol Deaf Academy. Because of this, Ethel’s aunt helped persuade and encourage her mother to allow Ethel to attend a special school that could educate her with her disability. At nine years old, Ethel enrolled in a prep class at the IDEA Loon Special Education Center. During the orientation camp and the first day of class, Ethel’s eyes were glowing with excitement! Finally, she had the chance to attend school like her siblings.
Ethel is now in Grade 3 and is very eager to continue learning! She joined the school's poster making contest during the Nutrition Month celebration and got 2nd place! Ethel’s mother and step-father are working to better their situation. They are in the process of building a little house.
Above all, learning how to communicate with new friends has brought Ethel undeniable joy! Access to education and a healthy living environment has completely changed this little girl’s life for the better.