Ivy, 20, comes from a community in Eastern Samar, the Philippines, that was badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan 3 years ago.
Looking back at 2015, Ivy recalls the challenges her family went through with the uncertainty that she would be able to finish her last year in college.
Not achieving the minimum required grades, she had to transfer from a state-funded college to a private college in the city. Her tuition fees more than doubled.
Her father, a motorcycle driver, and her mother, who runs a small grocery store, barely made enough to cover the family’s basic needs. Her parents asked Ivy to stop going to school.
First in the family
She understood her family's situation, but she could not give up on her dream to finish her education.
In Ivy's family, no one has ever graduated from college. In her village, with a population of around 400, only a handful have finished college.
I want to set an example to my sisters, my cousins, and my village.
"I had to enrol. I want to set an example to my sisters, my cousins, and my village. I want to show them that I could finish college despite the difficulties. And if I can do it, so can they."
Her parents understood why Ivy was determined to continue her education. Even if it meant being in debt, they found a way to support her first term at private school.
When the second term started, supporting her education continued to be a challenge until Ivy’s family was identified to be part of Plan International’s cash-for-work programme funded by the Asian Development Bank's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. Ivy’s parents knew it was exactly the kind of support they needed.
Through the programme, her father worked for P280 (US$6) per day - an amount hard to earn as a motorcycle driver. For 30 days, he worked to rehabilitate the village’s water system. After a month, he had earned enough to pay for Ivy's tuition.
As Ivy’s graduation came closer, she started to think about her future.
"Before I just wanted a diploma. But transferring to a new school and knowing the sacrifices my family had to make, made me dream even more. I realised that I didn't just want to graduate, I wanted to pass the board exam and become a police woman."
With this new goal in mind, she studied hard during her last term. On her graduation day, Ivy received flowers from the school which she gave to her mother.
Thanks to the cash-for-work programme, Ivy has been able to graduate college
"Thanks to the cash-for-work programme, Ivy has been able to graduate college," says her mother Rose.
Ivy is now preparing for her criminology board exam in September. She is equally nervous and excited.
"When I become a police woman, I want to be assigned in the field. I want to help my family, my relatives, and my village and to be of service to others," she says.
With that in mind, she is even more committed to reaching her goal, not only because her family is supporting her, but because her whole village is cheering her on.
This piece is written by Karen Joy Alcober, Communications Officer, Plan International Philippines (Karen.Alcober@plan-international.org)