Det Det’s Journey: First Step, First Grade

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Det Det is flanked by his mother and Erwin, an elder from his church.

Illiteracy is a big problem in the Philippines, especially among the indigent people and those living in remote areas. John Coffey, director of ER partner IT Tender, shares the story of a teenage boy who is working hard to overcome that deficiency in his own life.

By John Coffee, Director, IT Tender

Like many teenage boys, Det Det has big hopes and dreams for his future. Perhaps it’s fitting that his unusual name evokes the word “determination,” for this shy 17-year-old is overcoming bigger challenges than most of us can imagine.

When our staff at IT Tender first met him, Det Det had not completed grade

1 and was unable to even write his own name. Instead of attending school, he spent his days searching through trash piles, looking for recyclable and sellable items, and putting the money he earned toward food for his large family.

Det Det has been part of IT Tender’s Night Life youth program since 2013. Night Life allows children living in local squatter communities to visit a drop-in center, bathe and enjoy a hot, healthy meal.

But we recognized that Det Det needed more help, so in August 2014 we helped him get into Honest Hands, a program run by our partners at Action International.

Every week Det Det travelled to a campus just outside Manila to attend studies and one-on-one tutorials, and be part of a family environment alongside seven other students. Each weekend, he would return to his home along the railway to maintain family relationships in his own home, and attend a local church with staff from IT Tender.

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Det Det proudly holds his certificates at the graduation ceremony for Honest Hands’ basic education program.

Despite many struggles, Det Det completed the course. He now knows the alphabet, is able to write, and has even shown an aptitude for memorizing Bible verses. At his graduation from Honest Hands, Det Det received two awards: One for his commitment in the tutorial sessions, and another for his hard work and commitment to helping others throughout the eight-month program – especially for completing his chores so faithfully and without complaining.

Our staff also recognized Det Det’s perseverance and commitment to learning: We recommended him to be part of IT Tender’s Sponsor-A-Child program. We are pleased to report that Det Det already has a sponsor and is enrolled in grade 1 at a local elementary school near his home. And while he is enrolled in grade 1, he will be sitting in a grade 4 class taught by an IT Tender volunteer, Ana, who has a passion for teaching youth who have previously dropped out of school.

IT Tender is immensely proud of this young man, and we know he will continue to press on with his learning, faith and commitment to living a transformed life.

John Coffey oversees IT Tender, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Manila-area families struggling with deep poverty.  Learn more about IT Tender. The organization focuses heavily on early education, with the goal of giving at-risk kids the opportunity to succeed early in their school years to encourage them to complete their educations.

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