I cannot change the past, but I will sure try to change the future for those kids!

By Ronald de Jong – I cannot change the past, but i will sure try to change the future for those kids!? Strong words coming from a gentle woman. A woman with a great ambition and a positive attitude in life. Who is she?

Elena Aliawan was born in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. and at present residing in the Netherlands. During the time she spent in Mindanao she discovered that not every family in her hometown is fortunate enough to be able to afford education for their childeren. Her brother, a teacher, took her to his school, the Bacongco Elementary School in Koronadal City, many of his students could not pay for their education any more because their parents could not get around the high cost of living.

Elena Aliawan has experienced childhood poverty at firsthand and had to work her way through school, next to her labour in the ricefield of her parents she started selling plastic bags and had her daily chorus in a coffeeshop. Her dream of becoming a nurse could not be fulfilled because money for the study was not available. After her graduation she started her own business, a Sari-Sari store. However, after some years Elena could not abandon her long-life dream, she saved money where she could and decided to move abroad, to the Netherlands. She was able to get a job in home- care after a course in the Dutch language that she succesfully completed. And more studies were waiting for her.

Elena believes that education is the cornerstone on which to build the future of the children and the future of South Cotabato. Having a good education is essential for the future of any child and will help to. give these children the best possible start in life.
She recognised the children?s rights of education, no matter it?s background or religion, she decided to look for funds to help and give scholarships to those students who are willing and motivated to finish their education. Elena tells the children to have a strong belief in their own abilities and have an healthy determination to reach their goals.

At present 70 students have been granted a scholarship, but there are still more students who need and deserve support. The Bacongco Eelementary school suffers from a lack of basic resources, such as books, teaching supplies and sporting materials. Also the schoolbuildings needed to be upgraded.
In the last four years several ceilingfans for the classrooms could be installed, a comfort room for one of the classrooms could be constructed and a piece of dirt road in front of the school could be covered with cement. The building of a stone fence around the school and the construction of a library started in 2008. However, more donations are needed to continue building the fence and for the construction of 2 new classrooms.

In 2007 Elena Aliawan was awarded a certificate of recognition for having willingly established a strong partnership with the Department of Education by providing assistance to the Bacongco Campus and de Bacongco Elementary school, thereby making the learning environment more conductive to the attainment of quality education.

The certificate was given by the School Division Superintendent Ma. Rosa A. Gutierrez in the presence of the Education Supervisor and Coordinator from the Department of Education, Koronadal City for the Adopt a school program, Mr. Mario M. Madrero.

Elena is committed to ?her? children of the Bacongco Elementary school and will continue to give her support. For Elena the importance of education is quite clear, she is putting her potentials to maximum use and at the age of 43 she will start a new study . Her motto: You?re never too old to learn! Her next step is becoming a nurse, so she will be able to make a better contribution in taking care of elderly people in the nursing home where she works. Finally her dream becomes reality . Elena Aliawan, a remarkable and inspiring woman, in her own way taking care of the young and the old. Elena said: ?Children are the future but the elderly will help me to learn from the past!?

About the author: Ronald de Jong has been married to Elena for 19 years and is a very proud husband and father.

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