Three years ago, our field Team spoke with this family about their eldest daughter who was about to finish elementary school and graduate sixth grade class Salutatorian.
Field Team Leader Albert Bunoan began the conversation, “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we are here because your daughter Soledad expressed interest in applying for financial aid to attend SAS high school.”
“Who are you?” Mr Sotero sounded skeptical. “Why would Soledad want to attend SAS high school? All her friends are in public school.” Mr Sotero seemed bothered about something. His wife Calixta was fixing sweet potato stew in the kitchen. She listened intently even as she stirred the pot.
Mr Bunoan smiled and calmly explained to Mr Sotero about the SAS Ai scholarship program. “SAS is the premier private school in the province. It would certainly be to Soledad’s advantage to attend high school there. The faculty is very capable and the facilities are up to date. Soledad can apply her smarts and learn a lot from what SAS has to offer.”
“Isn’t that school only for the rich?” asked Mrs Sotero finally getting into the conversation. “One of my aunts attended that school and graduated in the late forties. Yes it is a great school.”
Mr Sotero chimed in, “So are you going to pay for Soledad’s tuition? How about her books and lab fees?”
Mr Bunoan showed the Sotero’s the SAS Ai program documentation. “Mr and Mrs Sotero, we will take care of Soledad’s registration, books, school uniforms, shoes, socks, school supplies but you will have to take care of her lunches and transportation.”
“How you doing that? You got money or something?” Grandma spoke her broken English. She was rocking the cradle in the other room. “You taking my Soledad and keeping her in dormitory? She needed here helping with the field and pasture.”
“Grandma Sotero, no, we are not taking Soledad and putting her in a dormitory. We are enrolling her to attend high school at SAS,” Albert said with a smile.
That was three years ago. This year Soledad will begin her fourth and senior year of high school. She has done well, staying in the honor roll after each year. She expects to graduate with high honors.
At the annual parent-Field Team meeting, Mr and Mrs Sotero reminisced with Mr Bunoan. “Remember when you first came to see us about Soledad attending SAS high school?” Mrs Sotero said.
“Yes. I thought Mr Sotero was going to do me bodily harm,” Mr Bunoan lightheartedly replied. “SAS Ai is very happy for Soledad and proud of her accomplishments. And so must you be…”
“Mr Bunoan thank you so much for not giving up on us,” Mr Sotero said in a very humble and subdued voice. “We couldn’t have given Soledad this kind of good education.”
“Yes we are most grateful to the donors of SAS Ai. And of course we love SAS Ai and all the volunteers who run the organization,” Mrs Sotero’s eyes misted.
It was such a different meeting than the one that happened three years ago. Such joyful realization…