Agosto E. Peñaflor (43)
I am from Manila in the Philippines. When I was a kid, people asked me what I wanted to be. Each time I answered a sailor, though I had no idea what a sailor is or does. I knew no sailors and our city is not by the sea. Still, I managed to become a sailor.
Thanks to an international organization that supports poor children, the Asmae Association Soeur Emmanuelle, I was able to go to school at the Philippines Maritime Institute in Manila. I am very grateful to them because they paid for my education therefor I became a sailor. More of my classmates got their education paid for by the association. We have been given a great chance for a better life.
I always had to travel two hours to get from home to school. During the day I sold chocolate, plastic or straws in a small shop to pay for transport to school. I sometimes saw rich students come by. They wore expensive clothes and good shoes and they smelled nice. They were lucky. I sometimes thought about giving up, but I told myself, “No. I’m selling now, but this afternoon I’m going to be a student again.” When I put on my white uniform, I always felt proud.
When I finished my exams and found a job, I was finally able to tell my parents that I had made it. I had become a sailor. I’m working hard on the ship now, but I’m grateful.
I have three children. The last time I was on leave, I was able to buy them sneakers for a basketball tournament. So they did not have to exercise barefoot. That made me very happy. I can give my family what they need.