Shining Bright in a Dumpsite


14-year-old Nadine has been living in a dumpsite with her family ever since she can remember.

Her father is a tricycle driver and her mother is an on-call house cleaner. As they depend on daily wages, it is never certain if they will make enough to provide for Nadine and her five siblings. Her eldest sister got married when she was young and the rest are still in school. 

Oftentimes, food has to be rationed to feed every mouth. The lunch money Nadine and her siblings get only allows them to buy cheap food in school. Buying essentials for school is a luxury as every penny counts for the day-to-day necessities.  

Life has not been easy for Nadine but she is not letting her circumstances hold her back. She is finding her way to her dreams through education. She jumps at every opportunity she gets to learn. 

The literacy initiatives by World Vision such as reading programmes and poetry competitions gave Nadine the space and resources she needed to explore, learn and hone her skills. From academics to athletics, she has become an all-rounder. Her medals are a testament to her perseverance and vigour. 

Today, she is one of the child facilitators at the Culture of reading centre and mobile library run by World Vision. These initiatives are part of Brigada Pagbasa - an after-school reading program. The centre is in the middle of the slum where children can have a fun learning experience. The mobile library goes to different slums bringing access to educational materials and promoting the culture of reading to children. It also encourages community involvement in instilling reading skills and improving children’s literacy skills.

“I chose to volunteer because I want to teach the children that going to school is very important. I want them to have some knowledge so that they can use it to change their lives. I know how hard it is if you don’t know how to read or how to write. That is why, God gave me a heart to teach the kids. I can use my voice to advocate that learning is so powerful.”

In the community Nadine lives, children are often found scavenging in rubbish dumps to survive. Poverty drives parents to send their children to pick up garbage than to school. 

“I feel sad for them. At their young age, they are supposed to be going to school and learning new things. But they are scrapping garbage. They don’t come to the reading centre as they have to pick up plastics and metals to sell in the junk shops. They barely make PHP 50 (SGD 0.85) a day,” says Nadine.  

Nadine is thankful for her mother who continues to encourage her to study hard and does not force her to work. 

Someday you will understand
That all this suffering has a purpose.
A cause for a brighter future,
for us to help the next generation. 
Someday we'll be happy
for God is always with us.

Nadine’s poem translated from Tagalog to English

The biggest worry of Nadine is not being able to complete her schooling because her parents can no longer afford to keep her in school. 

Will the day come when Nadine will make her dreams come true and become the policewoman she wants to be?

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Written By: 
World Vision Singapore