Getting back on track for a bigger dream for her family

When she learned she was pregnant at age 16, she immediately thought of quitting school.

Only in Grade 8 at that time, Analiza Vargas had to change priorities.

Two years later, she is back in school with more determination. With her bag on one hand and her baby on the other, she makes sure she does not miss a day in school.

“Bumalik po ako sa pag-aaral dahil mayroon akong pangarap para sa baby ko. Gusto ko pong mabigyan s’ya ng maayos na buhay at maibigay ang kanyang mga pangangailangan,” shared Analiza, now 18, a resident of Brgy. Silangan in the island municipality of Quezon in Quezon Province and a child-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Even if she has to bring her baby to school during school days, she did not see it as a challenge but an inspiration to reach her dreams.

Bata Balik-Eskwela campaign for children

Growing up, Analiza dreamt of being a doctor. Despite their struggles financially, she was a diligent student.

Things changed, however, when their mother died in 2016 and their father left them a few months later.

According to her elder sister Aileen, 27, Analiza reacted negatively to their situation.

“Nagbago ang ugali n’ya at madalas na kasama ang kanyang mga barkada,” said Aileen, who took care of Analiza and became the new grantee of the household.

When Analiza became pregnant, she decided to quit school. Since she is the sole monitored child of the Pantawid Pamilya in the household, they were suspended from the program eventually due to their non-compliance to the program condition on education.

As part of the DSWD’s Bata-Balik Eskwela Campaign, an extensive case management was conducted to help Analiza enroll back in school. This campaign was launched in 2019 and aimed to determine challenges and recommend solutions to help children go back to school.

“Nagkaroon ng series of home visitations kung saan kinausap ko si Analiza at ang kanyang pamilya para malaman kung ano ang pinakang-dahilan ng kanyang paghinto at kung willing pa s’yang magpatuloy sa pag-aaral,” shared Leanna Marie Batidio, the Municipal Link handling Analiza’s household.

In the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilya program, focus is given to the education of children as one of the goals of the program is to keep children in school to help them have better opportunities to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

A few months later, Analiza came to the Pantawid Pamilya office to submit her school update. She enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program in their community.

‘Balik-eskwela’ for her dreams

Throughout Analiza’s enrollment in ALS, her expenses are supported by the grants her family is receiving from the Pantawid Pamilya program as their household had been reinstated back to the program. 

Their other expenses, such as their food and the needs of her baby, are provided by her partner who works in a grocery store in their community.

Though Analiza misses the kind of activities they had when she was attending formal education, she cannot hide her joy and excitement with her enrollment in the ALS program.

“Kasa-kasama ko po lagi si nene [referring to her baby] kapag pumapasok sa school tapos ang mga kaklase ko ay mga nanay na rin na desidido ring makapag-aral para sa kanilang pamilya,” shared Analiza.

For Analiza, securing a high school diploma is important so she can achieve her dream for her new family.

“Ayaw ko pong maranasan n’ya [referring to her baby] ‘yung hirap na naranasan ko ‘nung bata ako. Ayaw ko pong lumaki s’ya sa palaging nag-aaway na magulang at ‘yung walang makain,” she said with conviction.

Last May 2021, she passed the equivalency assessment and earned her high school diploma.

“Mahalaga po ‘yung mayroong pinag-aralan para mas magabayan ko po nang maayos ang anak ko sa kanyang paglaki at makakuha ako ng mas maayos na trabaho para masuportahan s’ya,” shared Analiza.

These days, Analiza still dreams of becoming a doctor. This dream may still be too far for her, but she is excited to enroll in senior high school once the pandemic is over so she can be a step closer to achieving this.# [with reports from LMBatidio]