When IDEA teachers and staff scout the island for deaf children, it’s not unusual for them to find kids living in very impoverished and remote areas. This year, Ethel Sacro’s situation was particularly heart wrenching.
Many of our students live in some sort of dilapidated shack but Ethel’s family had only a damaged jeepney for shelter. They’d been living there for approximately 8 years. Her parents separated when she was 1 year old leaving her in her mother’s care. Her mother is now in a relationship with a jeepney driver.
At one point, the family had a small hut where everyone lived but when the earthquake hit in 2013, everything was destroyed. Ethel’s family also had tried renting a house but her step-father could hardly afford it with his meager income as a jeepney driver.
In the face of such pressing situations, Ethel’s education was nowhere on the list of priorities. Most of the time, she was left at home helping her mother with chores and caring of her 3 little half-siblings. When her siblings would leave for school, Ethel often wished there was a way she could go along. But no one had a way to communicate and explain to her why she couldn’t go.
Often, Ethel would sneak her siblings’ paper and pencils and try to imitate the letters she saw her brothers and sisters writing. She was grateful when her older siblings cared to teach her how to write her name.
After seeing her husband’s deaf sister thrive at Bohol Deaf Academy Ethel’s aunt was persuaded that sending her niece to a Special Education Center would be a beneficial experience. She encouraged Ethel’s mother to allow her to attend and agreed to support Ethel’s necessities while in school.
At 9 years old, Ethel enrolled in Prep class in Loon SPED Center. During the Orientation Camp and all through the first day of class, Ethel’s eyes were glowing with excitement. Finally, she had the chance to be like her siblings who went to school everyday. Everything was a new experience for Ethel. It was her first time attending
a flag raising ceremony and participating in calisthenics.
Today, Ethel is an eager student learning her first ABC’s, numbers, colors and shapes. She adjusted to her new environment very easily and is responsible in the dorms. Above all, learning how to communicate with new friends has brought Ethel undeniable joy. Access to education and a healthy living environment has completely changed this little
girl’s life for the better.