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Scavenging school girl: ‘I want to help my father’

Raisa Serafica
Scavenging school girl: ‘I want to help my father’
The video shows a girl in school uniform collecting recyclable material from a pile of junk

MANILA, Philippines – On the way home from school every day, 9-year old Junnellyn Adoptante stops from time to time to collect recyclable trash that she sees along her path.

She was doing this daily routine when Jay Grama and his daughter Zoie spotted her. They took a video of her. They were just a few meters away from Fourth Estate Elementary School where Junellyn and Zoie attend grade school.

The video, posted by Zoie on Facebook, quickly went viral, gathering praise from thousands of netizens. It has since gained more than 2,300 shares and 2,100 likes. Another Facebook user, Khenjee Deantonio, posted Grama’s video on his Facebook account on Friday, June 26. It garnered more than 11,000 likes and 17,900 shares.

Learned it from his father

Mamamangha ka. Makikita ‘nyo po na ginagawa niya ang lahat para maka-ahon (You will be amazed. You will see that she is doing all her best to rise above poverty), Zoie said. 

 

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In an interview with Rappler, Jay said that they found Junnellyn sorting through a pile of trash half as tall as her. 

“Sabi ko parang magandang inspiration ito sa anak ko at sa mga classmates nila kaya kinuhanan ko siya ng video (I thought that what I saw would serve as an inspiration to my daughter and her classmates so I took a video of her),” Jay explained.

Seeing her heavy load, Jay and his daughter offered to bring her home. Without the free ride, Junnelyn would have had to carry her load for the duration of her two-kilometer walk back home. 

Jay learned that Junnelyn voluntarily collects trash to help her father who works as a junk collector. 

Junnellyn lives at Bodoni Dulo, a village of informal settlers in Fourth Estate, Paranaque. Their house is 4 square meters in size – enough to shelter their basic possessions like bed and clothing. When preparing to go to school, Junnellyn needs to go to her grandfather’s house to bathe since they don’t have a toilet at home.

Junnelyn developed her habit of collecting sellable trash at a young age. When she was not in school, she would accompany his father in his work, and they would collect recyclable trash they would see on their way home. 

Helpful teacher-to-be

When asked why she was scavenging, Junnelyn’s answer was simple: “Para tulungan ang papa ko (To help my father).”

Her frail 58-year-old father roams around Parañaque to collect and sell trash to junk shops. This is the main source of their family’s income, and Junnelyn took pride in doing her part.

Masaya ako na nakakatulong ako sa papa ko (I’s just happy that I can help my father),” Junnellyn said.

When she is not is not at school or helping her father, Junnelyn plays with friends, helps her mother in house chores, and takes care of her younger sister.

She said the money she earns from collecting trash is usually just enough for her school baon (food). During “lucky days,” she even has money to buy diapers and milk for her younger sister.

However difficult life has been for Junnellyn, it hasn’t stopped her from dreaming big. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she proudly proclaimed, “Gusto ko maging (I want to be a)Ma’am (teacher)’!”

Her dream of becoming a teacher is fueled by her desire to help other people. “Gusto ko turuan yung mga di nakakapag-aral (I want to help those who can’t afford to go to school).”

Online reaction

Her video scavenging recyclable trash quickly became a source of inspiration for many netizens.

Hanga ako sa bata na ito na may pag-asa siyang umasenso sa buhay niya (I admire this kid who perseveres achieve more in life),” Mercy Galvez Puznak commented. 

According to Jannelle Centeno Cruz, the video reflects the state of poverty in the country. “Isa na namang ebidensiya kung gaano kahirap ang buhay mahirap sa Pilipinas. Hindi dapat jacket ang binibigay, government assistance tulad ng scholarship o housing.” 

(This is proof of the state of poverty in the Philippines. Instead of giving jackets, the government should give assistance like scholarship or housing.) 

“Napakabata pa niya para mamulat sa ganyang klase ng buhay, Pero dahil wala din syang ibang choice, ganyan ang kinahitnatnan nya. God bless you little girl,” Shermane Jimenez  commented. 

(She’s too young to experience that kind of life. But since she had no other choice, she ended up working while still young.) 

Many netizens also wished Junnellyn well.  On the Khenjee Deantonio’s post, Gemma Rodriguez commented: “Sana lahat ng taong ganyan tinutulungan lalo na’t may pangarap sa buhay (I wish all people like her  who have biggers dreams in life will get help).”

Since she doesn’t know what Facebook or Internet is, Grama simply said that she is already popular.

Alam mo ba na sikat ka na dahil marami nakakita ng video na ito? Humanga sila sa sipag mo (Do you know that you’re popular already because of this video? They admired your diligence),” Grama added. 

She blushed and smiled.  

Junnellyn promised to continue scavenging until she reaches her dreams. – Rappler.com 

 

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.