Poverty is a situation no one wants to be in. But, we can always do something to be able to get away from it. Dream and persevere.
Literally from dump to degree!
That’s how Jeb Bayawon’s life goes. Growing up with scraps and trashes around him and his family, who would have thought that he’ll be a degree holder one day?
From being a young scavenger, he’s now holding his diploma for a bachelor’s degree from Mindanao State University-Naawan.
Photo courtesy of the Island Kids Philippines Foundation / Jeb Bayawon’s Facebook profile
Jeb started dreaming in a landfill in Cagayan de Oro. That’s where he learned how tough life is.
“I grew up in landfill where my siblings and I scavenged for recyclable scraps and empty plastic bottles to help our parents for their livelihood,” he shared.
Their situation urged them to work at such an early age. Those days, they collect scraps and bottles and sell them in junk shops.
Not only that, Jeb also experienced looking for leftovers in the dump site, leftover from fast food chains and all which they will cook at ‘home’. That helped them survive for years. But that, also broke his dreams…
Young Jeb was bullied at school just because of his unfortunate situation.
“My father always advised me go to school. But when I was in elementary, some of my classmates teased me about living in the dumps and having no proper hygiene. Whenever I opened my baon, (packed food) during recess, they grimaced because they knew that it came from the trash.”
And as a kid, he was disheartened to continue going to school. One more reason that made him decide to drop out of school was his father who was suffering from tuberculosis. He was 12 when their father passed away and not long after, their mother left them due to a hypertension attack.
Not until year 2007 came, the tables had turned, his luck found him.
He became one of those fortunate beneficiaries of the Island Kids Philippines Foundation (IKP), a private-aid organization established by Thomas Kellenberger, a former law enforcer of Switzerland.
Jeb was just doing his work in the landfill when Kellenberger saw him and interviewed him with his fellow scavengers.
IKP gave Bayawon the opportunity to pursue his studies. It provided everything he needs as a student—from his tuition to his lodging.
“I continued my studies because I wanted to learn. I don’t want people to look down on me,” he said.
He finished his elementary education in a local school in their city, then he took the alternative learning system (ALS) to compensate for the years he missed when he was out of school.
There, he became proficient in oral and conversational communication in the English language.
So after passing the ALS Assessment and Equivalency Test, he was encouraged by IKP to take the entrance examination of Mindanao State University which he also passed.
Because he already knew he has potentials in public speaking, he took up Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education Major in English. This way, he’ll be close to his dream of becoming and educator.
But of course, his journey to his success was never easy. He’s been to a lot of obstacles and faced many challenges along the way.
Nevertheless, it didn’t hinder Bayawon from striving harder to achieve his goal. He was even in the dean’s list on his first semester!
And indeed, his hard work paid off. He finished his bachelor’s degree, handing him his key to a brighter future—his diploma. He also received a valuable gift during his graduation, the reunion with his siblings.
“I am looking forward to the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) this September,” he said.
Bayawon also expressed his plan to stay in IKP Foundation and be one of the ALS volunteer teachers to share his blessings, too and be the light to the youth who are in the same situation he was in before.