The world is filled with so much injustice and hate. Corruption scandals, a barrage of fake news, even your neighbors Facebook battle with their past flings. When will our misery end? Sadly, not anytime soon.
At the very least, it is time to take a break from all this negativity. Adding further to the recent peace talks within the Korean Peninsula, we still have more reason to restore our faith to humanity once again.
The Angel of Gastambide has descended from the heavens. Dara Mae Tuazon wins PHP 1.5M grant for starting a movement by teaching kids in “Bangketas” (sidewalk).
TOP Humanitarian Awardee
Last May 2, 2018, Dara Tuazon was bestowed the first The One Philippines (TOP) Humanitarian Award in Marriott Hotel Pasay City.
TOP is a subsidiary of The One International Humanitarian Award. It was founded by Hong Kong Businessman David Harilela in 2017. Roughly $2 Million has been given to fund quite a number of deserving foundations worldwide.
In a yearlong process, three were selected as finalists out of the thousands in the running in the Philippines. And Tuazon’s initiative won the hearts of the judges the most.
And mind you, these people are not just a normal bunch you can easily please. The TOP panel of judges includes Sen. Grace Poe. ADMU president Jet Villarin, and some top chairmen and directors of our country’s leading corporations.
With elegance in her modern Filipiniana dress, Dara accepted her award with humility and passion. At age 19, Dara Tuazon won for her leadership in Bangketa Eskwela Inc. (BEI) alongside the P1.5M grant supporting her cause and an additional P250,000 donation from various people who were touched and, soon after, believed her advocacy.
The runners-up Dr. Roel Cagape and Chad Stamatelaky are also awarded P500,000 each for their respective initiatives. Dr. Roel Cagape provides free health care to the indigenous people in Mindanaon communities, and Chad Stamatelaky is an artist who works with orphans.
Ultimately, Tuazon will represent the country at The One International Humanitarian Award, where $100,000 is at stakes for her foundation.
Finding Your Calling: Potential Plus Passion
As early as 11 years old, Dara Tuazon knew that teaching is her calling. From San Fernando Pampanga, Mommy Amphy (Dara’s mother) already saw Dara’s potential as she imitates her mother in her teaching antics. At an early age, she already plays as a teacher to her playmates, writing on chalkboards and administering lessons.
And alongside the birth of her passion, kids have been in the heart of Dara on the onset. She saw multiple out of school youth in the streets doing nothing. Dara knew that, as a future educator, she needs to do something about it.
The Courage to Start Banketa Classes
Her resolve is beyond the four corners of her classroom. She didn’t wait until she graduated from the University of the East (UE). She found a solution to the problem as early as now.
Everything started when she taught three street children in Sampaloc, Gastambide. When she knew that they were not in school, she gave it to herself to educate them allotting her free time.
This leap of faith turned to be fruitful. The 3 grew to a class of 35 ranging from 3 years old to 14 years old. She allots 2 hours a day to teach these children some basic lessons and values.
Social Media Ignited The Wildfire
Philippine Social Media caught on. A photo of Dara Tuazon teaching a child in a tricycle circulated without her knowledge. The photo evoked many and caught wildfire with over 10,000 likes and 4,000 shares as of date.
With this, her efforts were recognized by the UE administration and gave her a project called “Bangketa U-Eskwela“. UE gave source materials (e.g. laptop, projector, writing materials, paper, and etc.) and a classroom area to help Dara Tuazon teach our forgotten youth.
This also sparked interest in volunteerism amongst students and teachers of the university. There were an abundant number of volunteers and her professors also contributed to the polishing of the children’s lesson plans for a more holistic learning experience.
A Kind Gesture to a Full-Pledged Movement
What was once an effort of one became a full-fledged organization. The trial run for the project was just for a year. But this promising program was so beloved, it rekindled a flock of volunteers with the same passion to help our youth out.
The Bangketa U-Eskwela was institutionalized as Bangketa Eskwela Inc. Starting with just a chance encounter of three; her courage on that moment is reaching now to over a hundred out-of-school youth.
The program expanded now to multiple Bangketas over Metro Manila. The foundation also broadens and now includes feeding programs, medical sessions, and parenting seminars.
What Does the Future Hold?
Dara Tuazon knows that this movement is not an alternative to proper schooling. Instead, this is just a supplement for the youth who doesn’t have a choice as of the moment.
But with the funding given, Dara aims to support scholars in their education. Also, she would like to build a school, purchase teaching equipment, and donate to outreach programs.
In hindsight, who would’ve known that one person could create so much difference?
This may be a reality check to every one of us. If you have an advocacy you’re doubtful to start, think of Dara and her leap of faith.
That chance encounter might be your reason. Your calling as some might say to impact lasting change in this nation for the better.