Thirteen years ago, he worked in sugarcane and ricefields and sold puto and other native delicacies to help his mother earn a living.
But with hard work and perseverance, Allen Ojera, who turns 23 today, now works in a hotel in Manila as telephone operator.
Ojera, who spoke at the National Conference for the Protection and Development of Children in the Sugar Industry at L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City, yesterday said he was blessed and is thankful to the Laura Vicuña Foundation in Hacienda Malihao, Victorias City, Negros Occidental, because it has provided opportunities to get him to where he is now.
He said that at the LVF, their social workers made them aware of their rights and the privileges they should enjoy, and made them advocates of their own causes.
He wanted to get a higher education but felt it would deprive his other siblings to achieve their own goals. But God always works in mysterious ways, Ojera said. A volunteer from Belgium sponsored his education at the Laura Vicuña Development Training Center, and he graduated, he said.
In August of 2008, at the annual convention of all volunteers of LVF, he met Audrey Ada of Pan Pacific Hotel and two months later, he became a trainee at Crowne Plaza and continues to work there to this day.
His first job at the hotel was in the housekeeping department, Ojera said.
Later, he took the cross-training program of the hotel and one of the department heads offered him a position in the telephone exchange department where he now works, he added.
Ojera said with his job at the hotel, he has been able to help his mother send his sisters to school.
One of his sisters is pursuing an information technology degree at the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, while the other one is taking up commercial cooking at the La Salle College-Victorias.
Ojera thanked his mother for being his inspiration, and for giving him guidance and encouragement.
He encouraged those at the conference to continue dreaming, and left them with a Walt Disney inspirational quote, “If you can dream it, then it can be done.”*LTG