A Young Girl’s Courage to Be a Voice for the Voiceless

"If others are unable to defend themselves, I want to be their voice."

Type: Story

 "If others are unable to defend themselves, I want to be their voice and shield against abuse until they are capable of doing so themselves. I want to protect them from those who seek to harm them,” said Sibyl, an 18-year-old girl from Samar who is determined to fight for the rights of other girls in her community.

Amidst the struggles of a broken family and the harsh realities of abuse, Sibyl is committed to shape not only her future but also the lives of countless others in Samar.

Sibyl's childhood was marred by her parents’ separation when she was just eight years old. While her mother worked tirelessly in Manila, she was left in the care of her grandmother and uncle. Sibyl faced not only the absence of her mother's nurturing presence but was mistreated and abused by her relatives. Despite it, she chose to bear this burden silently, shielding her mother from worry and focusing instead on her dreams for a better future.

Her life started to change when she attended a community orientation on children and youth, which was led by a policewoman. Drawing from her own painful experiences growing up, Sibyl was infused by the desire to protect vulnerable children and youth in her community.

“I dream of becoming a policewoman. Even if it’s a male-dominated industry, I realized I should not be limited because of my gender," she said.

Sibyl opened up to her mother and found out that her mother once dreamed to become a policewoman. However, societal constraints barred her mother's ambition.

“Hindi siya pinayagan dahil ‘babae siya,” (My grandfather stopped her because she was a girl) said Sibyl.

Sibyl’s mother, on the contrary, urges her to pursue her dreams.

“Sabi niya, ‘Hindi dapat rason ‘yun para abutin ang pangarap mo,’” (She said, ‘Being a girl should not be a barrier to achieving your dreams.’) said Sibyl.

When she attended the learning sessions of Advancing Adolescents' Voice for Violence-Free, Inclusive and Safer Family and Community Environment in Samar and Leyte (ADDVOICE), an initiative funded by the European Union and led by Save the Children Philippines and Western Samar Development Foundation, she gained a deep understanding of laws protecting children's rights.

"If only I had known that it is wrong and illegal to hurt children, perhaps I would have fought back then and stood up for our rights as children, including my siblings,” said Sibyl.

Sibyl envisions herself not just as a protector, but as an advocate, standing resolutely against abuses and injustices. She realized the importance of imparting this knowledge to the children in her community, believing that awareness of rights is paramount to combatting violence and exploitation.

“If we help children realize that they have rights, we will move forward together in the fight against violence," she shared.

In the future, Sibyl dreams of establishing an organization akin to the goals of ADDVOICE.

“I want to volunteer for future initiatives, tirelessly promoting awareness of children's rights within my school and beyond,” she said.

Sibyl is committed to be the voice for the voiceless. Through her courage and commitment, she has transformed her own pain into a force for change, paving the way towards a fairer, safer, and more equal world for and with children.

 

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