Laura Vicuña Foundation, Philippines

Andres (right) performs his daily task in the cane field while brother Vicente rides the carabao.
Andres, 17 years old, is the eldest child in the Cabahug family that includes Andresa, 16, Richard, 15, Vicente, 14, Andy, 10 and Andrew, 8. Each of the children has only reached Grade One. The desire to go back to school was only a cherished dream, until the Laura Vicuña Foundation launched the Community & Mobilization towards Education (COME) project through financial support from the CIRCLE project.

For most children, attending Grade One is the gateway to education. For the Cabahug children, it was the first and only year they were able to attend school. At a young age, they faced the reality of foregoing education since their father was confined to a sickbed due to paralysis. They were resigned to living their lives as sugarcane workers. Andres had to take on the responsibility of being the family breadwinner. He had already mastered the tasks a sugar cane worker needs in order to earn a living. His younger brothers accompanied him to the sugarcane fields to help lighten his load and enable him to finish his chores early.

Life is now quite different for all of them. While Andres continues to till the land, he does so with great hope and joy. During an assessment test for the child participants of the COME project, Andres worried as he attempted to use his pen. Confined to working with the land, Andres did not think he would ever again write his name on a piece of paper. After just a month of patiently attending tutorial lessons, Andres can now write his name clearly. He, Andresa and Richard are getting an education by taking part in a non-formal education program. The three younger children, Vicente, Andy and Andrew, will also be assisted by the Laura Vicuña Foundation for their re-entry to school in the coming months.