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Poverty is not a Hindrance to Success: My Pursuit of Education

Working towards My Goals in Life

My name is Gegerma Montero. I grew up a life of poverty in remote villages in Danao City, Province of Cebu, Philippines. As a child, my only dream was to go to school and finish my studies. My hope was that one day I could wear a black gown for graduation.

After my graduation from elementary school, all of a sudden my family moved to another city. In Cebu the secondary school was very far from where my family lived in, and my father said education can’t feed me. Instead, it was better to help in farming. I had no choice but to help my father at a very younger age, working like an adult. As I was still young and new to the place, I had no other options.

My cousin who worked in the City as a helper asked me if I wanted to be a working student, I was so happy because I never thought I could work and study at the same time. My mother didn’t oppose my ideas, but the hardest thing was to convince my father. I knew my father would say NO, “Schools are for lazy people, and it’s a waste of money,” he said. I insisted and insisted, I became stubborn and told him I could prove to him that I could study with or without his support. I packed up some of my dresses, putting them in a striped plastic bag and left home with my cousin to the Danao City, while my parents watching me leave.

Gegerma and family

I worked as a helper for a retired teacher who was teaching in college department of Manto Memorial Foundation College. I had many ups and down as I kept on transferring from one employer to another. During the first three years, I worked in the daytime and studied at night. At the fourth year, I transferred to day class as I had good grades. Thank God, my boss, my mother and my sister support me along the way.

On my graduation ceremony, I was the 3rd honorable student mentioned. At the audience, I saw my very proud father.

I later found work at Cebu Mitsumi Inc. because my dream was to have a college diploma. After I started again in College, I worked and studied in reversed schedule. I was in working at night shift from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am and went to school afterwards. My family is my source of inspiration, which motivated me to work hard. I knew I couldn’t ask from my parents because they also had nothing. I needed to strive by my own, facing any obstacle I met along the way because I wanted to change the lifestyle in the remote villages as it was a hard life. At my last semester, a newly hired production engineer wanted me to shift in day time working schedule. I had no choice but to resign from my work and strive hard to finish my last semester I eventually graduated with an associate degree in Computer Science in 1999.

After graduation, I worked several years in local office as a government employee until 2012, where I was assigned to Department of Education, Danao City Division under my uncle’s supervision. From there I got a chance to leave the office and study housekeeping course until I finished training at a local hotel. Later on, I got a call for a job interview in Manila for Hong Kong, and I grabbed the opportunity to find another job.

With Colleagues on international women's day

Following My Dreams

December 2012 I landed in Hong Kong for the first time, with no idea how my employer looked like. Now I am thankful that although my employer is not perfect, they gave me the opportunity. Up to present, I’m still with them. I normally look after kids, a girl seven years old and a boy almost two years old.

My life in Hong Kong is big difference compared to Philippines. Here I can do everything I want without worrying that someone will report to the boss; here I found a new circle of friends especially in Domestic Workers Empowerment Project at Hong Kong University. I am really thankful to God for everything I have now.

Looking back upon my life, I have worked very hard for my ultimate dream - to have my College Diploma despite many hardships, ups and down, unexplainable mixed feeling that you feel when you received the fruit of your efforts and perseverance. I want the readers to know that poverty is not a hindrance of success. The most important thing is that you have dreams and goals. Knowing what you want and everything will follow step by step.

Last, I believe that education is a lifelong process with no age limit. The best key to success are hardworking and determination. Have Faith and be positive and you will succeed.

Thank you for reading, I know I am not perfect, but I will always try my best. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2018. My family and I wish you a blissful life.

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