Charlene wants to be like Cinderella

Charlene with her crownIt can be hard to wish for big dreams when you are living in a tiny house with dirt floors which you share with your parents, 9 siblings and an older sister’s husband and their three kids. But nine year-old Charlene is not discouraged. She understands that life is tough and hard work is needed, even to make it to school every day.

Charlene lives in a remote rural area in Mindanao. Because many young girls in her village do not go to school because of limited family incomes and added responsibilities at home, her education means a lot to her. Along with her classmates, she usually treks the 45-minute journey to school every day in her rubber slippers and with her hand-me-down books and school supplies in recycled plastic bags. 

“I love reading. I want to go to school every day because school is fun. We use our own dialect in the classroom and everybody is always excited for teacher’s stories.”

By adapting our basic education program activities and emphasizing the use of children’s mother-tongue, Save the Children is encouraging learning in the early primary grades in communities like Charlene’s. Unfortunately, in many hard-to-reach communities like hers, there is a lack of learning resources and awareness about the importance of reading.

“When Save the Children chose our school, we are given attention,” Charlene explains.

Now that her school has more books, she says she borrows them from her teacher and often reads to her father and youngest siblings. Since we started our quality education program in her area, Charlene's teachers and parents have also been trained on how to encourage her with letter knowledge, reading fluency, and comprehension. Save the Children has also improved the school’s learning environment by introducing health and nutrition services and providing water supply systems, drinking water stations and toilet facilities.

Charlene is now in second grade and she knows that she has a lot of years to go before she finishes her schooling. But just like her favorite story, Cinderella, she says with help of her school, her teacher and Save the Children, she can dream for a better life in the future with her family. “I want to be a teacher so I can also help other children in my village”, she said.