ACAY’s commitment over the past 20 years to give a second chance to youth at risk through innovative programs and an uplifting presence shines through in the many success stories of our beneficiaries and the transformation of their lives.
Listening to the beneficiaries is the best way to discover ACAY. This is where you see the most rewarding aspect of the mission: once broken and today they are empowered leaders.
With great joy, we have the honor to introduce three new devoted members of our organization. They are former beneficiaries of the School of Life (SOL) program and now part of the ACAY professional teams. Their motivation and vibrant energy are now bringing to a new generation of youth a living testimony of “from Impossible to I’m possible”.
“Growing up surrounded by violence and illegal business deals was the norm for me. At an early age, I took refuge in the material luxury of illegal activities. Being without guidance and educational support, one-day authorities caught me in the midst of these illegal activities. Because I was a minor at the time, I was taken to a Youth Home where I felt great solitude, I had lost all sense of direction in my life. I had tried to support everyone whilst growing up but now no one was there for me. After two years, I was transferred to ACAY.”
WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT WHERE IN YOU DECIDED TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
“What touched me the most was having a guide, someone who was with me, listening to me, journeying with me. The turning point of my life began at that moment. I fully embraced the opportunity given to me. I started to open up and trust people willing to help me. I realized what was ‘normal’ in my family was not normal. Counseling and guiding sessions helped me to understand myself and gave me back the right direction in my life.”
“I finished the School of Life Program and had a degree in Business Office Administration and Services.
The experiences I have had in life echo as an inner voice that drives me to help, guide, and inspire young people who have lost all direction in their life. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to work for ACAY. I share the same mission with ACAY: Helping youth find new orientation for their lives.
I am now supporting the mission in Admin & Human Resources and also coaching some of the girls of SOL in their preparation for independent living and professional life.”
“I am Kennie Jane, survivor of the strongest typhoon recorded, Haiyan, in 2013. At the age of 14, I lost one of my closest family members. Devastation surrounded me but more than the physical destruction, that event left me with deep emotional distress. In the midst of that chaos, I found a spark of joy when I met the team from ACAY. They came to offer psychosocial interventions to those affected by the calamity. Invited a few months later to join one of the training sessions of the School of Life program, I decided with the agreement of my parent to enter SOL and finally stayed for three and a half years.”
COULD YOU SHARE A FEW WORDS ABOUT YOUR STORY OF TRANSFORMATION?
“During those years, I had time to heal and recover from my trauma through a series of psychosocial interventions. One of the most significant time was the Family Seminar where my parents came. For the first time, I was able to share with them some feelings that I had kept hidden from them for so long. My relationship with them has been totally transformed. I also received life skills training that empowered me and prepared me for independent life.”
“I obtained my Bachelor Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Services then went further to get a certificate in Baking and Pastry from one of the most renowned schools in Manila.
I gained expertise working in some of the best hotels in Manila. I then did further studies but once graduated, life took an unexpected turn. My gratitude for the people who brought me this far and my deep desire to help other youths reach their dreams prevailed more than anything else. That sense of purpose-led me to work in ACAY as a volunteer for 6 months. Along the way, I realized the joy of working for others, and I was immersed in a culture of constantly learning new professional skills. When the pandemic arrived, my volunteerism had come to an end. Fulfilled in my life, I decided to dedicate the next two years to work with the School of Life team. A cause that is close to my heart.
My role is to teach the youth new healthy lifestyles, some practical skills like creative cooking and transforming the simple into the extraordinary, encouraging them to nurture this culture of continuous learning.”
“I am also a calamity survivor from Tacloban. Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, was for me, a traumatic experience of powerlessness and fright. I arrived in the School of Life as a shy girl, oftentimes hiding myself behind others. The tireless understanding and uplifting words from the sisters and the staff in ACAY who believed in me gave me strength.
I believe that my journey in the School of Life of rebuilding my dignity and self-esteem empowered and strengthened me, molding me into a confident, independent young woman.
I graduated from the SOL Program earlier this year, and have earned my Academic Degree in Business Office Administration and Services. From the shy girl I used to be, I am now out in front and helping others. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity to share with the youth the hope, love, and family atmosphere that I received before as a beneficiary. I have always at the forefront of my mind one of the most significant quotes I heard in my stay in SOL: “What is not shared is lost.”
“I chose ACAY as my first employment. My desire is to help the youth of ACAY feel that they are not alone, there are people who are willing to help, to listen and to journey with them. And I can be that person for them. This is the right time for me to share all that I have received.”