Every cloud has a silver lining.
And no matter how bad a situation might be, there is light at the end of the tunnel. For always, bad situations will not last forever.
Jeremiah Mejia was so glad he didn’t give up on his dreams.
Though he came from a financially challenged family, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his education for a brighter future.
His father worked as a carpenter while his mother is a housewife and they have nine children, including Jeremiah.
For parents whose income was unstable, providing for the family is a challenge and sending kids to school proved to be difficult.
He recalled, "Ang baon ko noon ay sakto lang sa pamasahe papunta at pabalik, pati na ang pangkain. Kung may mga bayarin sa school, nasa-sacrifice ang aking pangkain at pamasahe pauwi."
"Kaya nakikishare na lang ako sa aking mga kaklase at sa pag-uwi naman ay nilalakad ko na lang pauwi hanggang sa bahay," he added.
As an additional source of income, Jeremiah would help his father in making furniture to earn a little.
He said, "I can still remember noong mag-sa-start pa lang ako sa college, na talagang kailangan kong samahan ang aking tatay sa paggawa ng mga furniture para lang may pambaon, palaging late akong nakakabili ng libro sa school kasi kailangan ko pang mag-ipon o maghanap ng pambili."
His faith in God and drive to pursue his dreams led him to a window of opportunity.
With the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), he was lucky enough to be part of the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) and had the chance to earn without necessarily disrupting his education.
This is DOLE’s youth employment-bridging program which aims to provide temporary employment to poor but deserving students, out-of-school youth, and dependents of displaced or would-be displaced workers during summer and/or Christmas vacation or any time of the year to augment the family’s income to help ensure that beneficiaries can pursue their education.
Jeremiah was an SPES beneficiary in 2011, 2013 and 2014 who worked at the local government unit of Binmaley.
With the stipend he received, he was able to provide for his needs and it helped him achieve a college diploma.
"Malaki ang naitulong DOLE-SPES para ako ay makapagtapos sa Bachelor of Technical Teacher Education at naging way ito para matupad ang pangarap ko na maging guro," he said.
At present, Teacher Jem is employed as Technology and Livelihood Education teacher for Grades 9 and 10 students at Mapandan National High School.
He remains grateful to his SPES work experience which brought him closer to his dreams.
He also shared how he drew inspiration from experiences in the past which tried to knock him down and discouraged him.
He narrated, "I can remember iyong time na kailangan na naming mag-uniform sa school para makapasok sa gate. Ang ginamit kong uniform ay mga pinaglumaan na at wala akong black shoes, ang meron lang ay brown shoes."
"Ang ginawa ko para makapasok lang sa school ay bumili ako ng maraming black na kiwi shoe color, para makulayan ng black 'yong brown ko na sapatos. Palagi akong nasa lilim kasi kung masinagan ng araw ang aking sapatos, mapapansin na ito ay kulay brown," he added.
When asked about what advice he could give young dreamers like him, he said, "My dream for my students is that they will attain and fulfill all their dreams even when the odds are against them. That there should be no problem that can stop them from reaching their goals."
Still anchored in his faith, he concluded, “They should show respect to everyone even when they are at the top of their career in life. Most importantly, they shall always remember God, not only in hard times but also during rejoice and celebrations of success." (JCR/AMB/PIA Pangasinan)
Every cloud has a silver lining.