Sponsored child, Lindie Ortillo is a determined young lady who lets nothing stand in the way of her dream to become a teacher.
Against the odds Lindie is pursuing that dream at Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban thanks to the VFV Dumpsite Project.
The VFV Dumpsite Project takes children away from the dangerous life of scavenging plastics and recyclables at the city dump by connecting them with a sponsor who provides food subsidies, clothing, school supplies and weekly meals.
Unwilling to let the struggle of poverty stop her from going to school, Lindie was scavenging every Saturday and Sunday from 7am until 5pm when she met VFV.
“I would be at the dump every weekend without fail,” explained the 17-year-old.
“Otherwise there was no money for the fare to get to school, or for lunch or projects.”
VFV connected Lindie with a sponsor four years ago putting an end to her time hunting through piles of toxic rubbish, avoiding rusted nails and syringes, to earn less than a dollar.
“I am so thankful not to have to go there anymore — it was so very hot and there was no shelter from the sun or rain,” said Lindie.
“I was so tired and haggard.”
Now Lindie can spend her weekends concentrating on her course work and resting after her exhausting daily journey to school. Lindie rises at 5am and makes her way, barefoot, down a long, steep and muddy path and through a river before she reaches the main road, puts on her shoes and waits up to an hour for the jeepney that will take her to university.
Lindie’s tenacity comes from a passion to teach and a drive to help her family build a better future.
“My father and two younger brothers still walk an hour every day to scavenge at the dump site,” she said.
“I feel pity for my brothers who are only 9 and 11-years-old.
“I want to get a good job teaching so that I can share my knowledge but also so that I can help support my family.”
Want to help pull more children out of this grim existence? Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Dumpsite Project!
*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia