“A good teacher is like a candle — it consumes itself to light the way of others.”
–Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Teaching is a noble profession albeit a challenging one in itself, especially for any educator assigned to inaccessible far-flung areas. But however daunting the situation may be, school principal Joy Referendra remains unfazed.
She comes from a family of teachers but Joy did not dream of becoming one herself even as financial difficulties pushed into pursuing it as a career. As such, she eventually quit teaching after nearly 17 years to take a break from the pressure of her work, the environment, and the people around her. Yet, it did not keep her away long because, as Joy believes, it was God who called her back to continue teaching.
An opportunity came in 2017 for Joy to work and serve the tribal children in CCT-Visions of Hope Christian School. Finding comfort in being able to help the children of Malungon, Sarangani gave her a new perspective, one she had not felt in previous years. This time around, she viewed teaching no longer as a family obligation but something that God wanted her to do.
For “Principal Joy”, education is an opportunity to share her learnings and a privilege to be part of her students’ journey towards achieving their dreams, which is what drives her the most. But challenges remain. To get to school, she and her team need to travel an hour from town, hike up a mountain for another hour or so, then cross three rivers. It’s a weekly routine Joy and her co-teachers are happy to do, for the love and dreams of their students. However, she can’t help feeling bad in times she falls ill and, thus, unable to go to work.
Despite the lack of teachers, remoteness of the area, difficult terrains, expensive vehicle rent for their trips, and coming home to their families (for the locals) only once a month, Joy and the teachers of the CCT-Visions of Hope Christian School continue their undying dedication to providing the best education for the children. More than recognition, their passion and love for a mission that brings life-giving hope needs continued support.
One way to help is giving teachers care packages that can provide them with comfort despite their occupational challenges and reminds them that the one who gave cares enough to send difficult to procure items. These packages contain necessities (e.g. food items, medicines, etc.,) that are not readily available in their area. Each will cost around five thousand pesos and will contain prepaid cell phone load cards, solar-powered power banks, grocery gift cheques, beddings and pillows, medicines and vitamin supplements, flu vaccine, and school uniforms.
Through KINDer by Aboitiz, Aboitiz Foundation sought to give assistance to the noble cause that CCT-Visions of Hope Christian School promotes. With this partnership, Aboitiz Foundation and Visions of Hope are working together to raise funds to provide 30 care packages that will help empower and recognize the dedication of these teacher-missionaries. You too can help make a difference in the lives of children in remote areas in the Philippines. Please visit KINDer by Aboitiz to be part of this project.
This article was written by Erica Garo.