Patrick Angeles dropped out of his primary school after his third grade because his parents could no longer afford it. Reluctantly, he did so knowing that he had no choice. He knew his family would be better off economically if he could find work to help make both ends meet.

Patrick’s family has been stuck in poverty since forever and he longed for the day when things would be different. Unlike his neighborhood friends and peers, he has dreams.

He dreamed of enjoying a better life, of residing far from the poor part of Navotas City, Metro Manila where they now live, of tasting delicious food, of having a well-paying job or building a successful business someday.

These thoughts were well-kept secrets of his, lest he be branded as an unrealistic and over-ambitious fool. It was a painful to think since they are his childhood friends, but he was beginning to realize they were holding him down and preventing him from achieving his dreams.

Patrick knew unless he breaks away from them their bad vibes will, like a black hole, would suck his dreams to nothingness. But how? Nothing short of a miracle must happen ASAP, he knew.

His prayer was answered in 2015, the year when he learned that the nearby St. Peter United Methodist Church was offering the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program under the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for out-of-school youth like him.

Patrick learned about it because his brothers actually enrolled in this program ahead of him. The latter encouraged him to give it a try. They were that positive about ALS in spite of failing their first ALS Accreditation and Equivalency Examination (ALS A&E). But they were unfazed and were willing to try again.

Patrick sensed his brothers’ new-found self-esteem and agreed to try it out. He did not expect the almost-instant effect it did on him. He described it as like a burst of light after a long dark night.

Like his brothers, he failed to pass the exam on his first attempt. Like them, he was determined to try again. But after failing two more times, his enthusiasm began to wane.

It pained him to see his classmates move on the next level while he remained where they were. He felt sorrow, insecurity, fear, and shame. He was ready to give it all up… but KKFI was not. The staff saw Patrick’s potentials. They knew that his good character outweighs his weaknesses. They predicted that a good future awaited persons like Patrick.

They encouraged him and did everything to prop up the young man’s sagging confidence. They encouraged him to study some more and to take another A&E. To get his mind off the exam results and the anxiety that went with it, Patrick took the Massage Therapy course offered by KKFI.

He displayed extra-ordinary diligence and that paid off when he topped the class, earning a National Certificate II or NCII from the Technical Education and Skills Development Administration (TESDA). With his newly acquired skill, he was able to earn extra money to help his financially challenged family.

More good news came. The A&E results came out and they showed that Patrick passed. After four tries, he has finally become an ALS graduate! In 2018, KKFI officially accepted Patrick as one of its scholars.

Then there was the time when Patrick joined KKFI’s annual activity called Youth Lead, Educate and Advocate for Development or YLEAD Camp, which aims to help young people to be leaders by actually initiating projects that addresses particular needs of communities. There, Patrick was given a chance to be a facilitator and a leader. That exposure, he later admitted, motivated him to be bolder in trying out new things.

Patrick remembered: “In 2016, I joined one of KKFI’s trainings where I listened to a lecturer talk. I told myself, “One day, I, too, will speak before a large number of people.”

He said this dream came true when he became one of the facilitators of YLEAD Camp. It turned out to be a breakthrough for Patrick, whose personal development after that can only be described as “by leaps and bounds.”

He became a leader of young people in KKFI and an officer in his community. He implemented and managed projects, including education of community children.

“We taught children who were unkempt and unwashed, but I was not repelled by these. Helping them gave me indescribable joy and satisfaction,” Patrick shared.

He found satisfaction in providing service to street-children who, otherwise, were helpless and hopeless.

“All I can do is to give my best,” he said.

Another KKFI activity he found worthwhile was “LikhAral” (Create/Study), another annual activity that is its own version of the Vacation Church School of the United Methodist Church (UMC). Teaching children in LikhAral has improved Patrick’s patience and teaching skills.

When it was time to face his new life as a student of a mainstream school, Patrick had to face seemingly daunting challenges. The biggest one was figuring out how to level off with his classmates, who apparently have more accumulated years in formal education compared to him.

This was coupled by the fact that it was impossible for him to focus 100 percent on his studies because he still needed to work part-time. Thank goodness he was not alone in it. He had his classmate-friends and “Ates” and “Kuyas” in KKFI who guided him every step of the way.

This inspired Patrick enough to win various academic awards and honors. He said his hard work was his way of paying KKFI back for supporting him, especially when he had to deal with some challenges regarding his health.

He acknowledges that KKFI helped him gain confidence as a leader. With support from Mission Alliance, the Foundation was able to initiate programs and activities that taught him how to analyze problems, think critically, and come up with possible solutions.

They gave him the opportunity to learn how to balance his life and respect the opinions, values, culture, dialects and diversity of other people.

Reflecting on his young life, he was amazed at how things turned around so quickly. It was only a few years ago when he was wandering about aimlessly unsure of what the future would bring. These days were a lot different and things are much clearer.

He was awe-stricken by how God can work wonders on one’s life. He could not help but feel blessed.

A very important lesson he learned, however, was this: Failures are not a sign that you should stop trying. On the contrary, they are an assurance that you are nearer your goal so it is not wise to stop on your track.

Patrick would be the first to tell you that he is the living proof of this truism.

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