Juan, Elena and Pablo Then


Juan joined Tuburan only last year when he was seven. He was an angry and volatile child who lived together with his three siblings, his mother, a home maker, and his father who ran errands for his boss. Play time for Jose and his siblings was usually spending hours in front of the television watching cartoons. Juan would arrive at school tired and sleepy. He could barely keep up with the fast-paced school activities that required plenty of movement and participation, focus and attention. To make matters worse, Juan experienced and witnessed violence and neglect from the adults around him at home so much that he became a much disliked bully at school. A month after Juan joined Tuburan, his father was murdered. Left alone with four young children, Juan’s mother had a hard time making ends meet. In the rush to earn a living, she would often skip breakfast, a habit which the children adapted. Juan and his siblings subsisted on junk food and processed food. At school Juan would often stare blankly ahead. His harsh words and ways alienated him from his classmates who didn’t hide their pleasure whenever he was absent.


Elena is one of Tuburan’s pioneering students who joined five years ago when she was four. She was a moody and precarious little girl who got into fights with her classmates almost every day. She was a very thin and sickly child then and was often rushed to the hospital for her asthma attacks. During play time Elena would hoard toys and play alone and would often do the opposite of what was asked. Her teacher struggled to bring her back to the group after every tantrum when she didn’t get her way. To make matters worse, two tragedies befell Elena’s family last year. Elena’s beloved grandmother suddenly died. Her other grandmother who had been taking care of since she was little suffered multiple strokes that left her bedridden and unable to speak. The tragedies reversed the roles in the household with Elena having to pitch in by washing clothes, cleaning the house, feeding her aunt, and more. The expensive medicines as well as the subsequent drought that depleted the family’s rice harvest have put immense strain and made life hard, especially for Elena who had to take on adult responsibilities early.


Pablo, like Elena, is also one of Tuburan’s pioneering students who joined five years ago when he was four. He was a painfully shy little boy. Pablo’s family lived just a stone’s throw away from Tuburan. When Pablo reached Class 1 (Grade 1) he was very vocal about his dislike of Math that he often made it the reason for not wanting to go to school. His father, a former tricycle driver, and his mother, a former factory worker and fruit vendor, worried a lot about how they would pull off paying for the children’s transportation when Pablo would be in Class 2 (Grade 2) and the school would transfer to its permanent home two hours away. Enrolling the children in a nearby school seemed to be the cheapest solution but opinions differed and many fights ensued in the family. Because of this and many other disagreements, Pablo’s mother suddenly left home to start the process of applying to work abroad. Pablo and his sister went through this tearful, heart-wrenching period with the uncertainty of their parents’ separation and anxiety about having to stop their Tuburan schooling because there just wasn’t enough money for the long ride to and from school.

Juan, Elena and Pablo Now

Today, Juan, Elena, and Pablo are already in Class 3 (Grade 3) and seem like totally different children. From sickly, shy, afraid, angry they have become healthy, happy, expressive and confident; a real pleasure to be with. Instead of hating school, they now don’t want to miss a day – even when they’re sick.


Beginning this year, Juan has been living with his aunt and grandparents, doesn’t skip breakfast, eats fruits and vegetables, and plays outdoors instead of watching television the whole day. His classmates now seek his company and ask his help especially when it’s about using strength and speed.


Pablo’s family, on the other hand, have packed their belongings four months ago and found a home near the school where his father now works as the maintenance staff while his mother is still looking for work. As one of the oldest students in school, Pablo has become a much liked leader and has learned to love Math’s precise logical process.


Elena, too, who will turn 9 in December, has long since been cured of her asthma because of all the running, tree climbing and good nutritious food. She has become everyone’s friend and has a great capacity to let go and adjust.

(Note: The real names of the children have been changed in this Generosity Story. The parents/guardians of the children have given Tuburan Institute, Inc. permission to share their families’ stories.)

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