The kids of Tigbaw Elementary, deep in the heart of the Mindanao jungle, are loving school! Because of the opportunity for education, these kids are able learn and grow in skills and knowledge that previous generations could only dream about. Most importantly, they are now safe from rebel army recruitment.

At the start of the school year, eleven boys and fifteen girls, ranging from age three to age seventeen, clamored into the schoolhouse. The twenty-six students were divided into four grade levels (kindergarten, first, fourth and fifth) – all of which are taught by one teacher, a woman named Elsa.

Elsa and her proud mother!


Elsa and her proud mother!

As is to be expected, juggling four grade levels and an age range of fourteen years is a challenge for Elsa. At only 26 years old, she has taken on a huge challenge in her first year of teaching! In a letter to our staff, she writes about the difficulty of tailoring lessons to each student’s learning capacity. 

She is also struggling with an overcrowded classroom and not enough tables and desks for the students. A tight budget and deep poverty within the community means kids come to school with growling bellies, and they lack access to basic toiletries like soap, shampoo and toothpaste. 

But despite the challenges and obvious obstacles of running a schoolhouse in a tiny Philippine village, Elsa writes that there is also great joy. As she learns about leadership and grows in her skills as a teacher, she is seeing her students blossom, too. The kids love learning, are quick to engage, and participate excitedly in all activities. 

Elsa is humble and shy but very determined to help her community. She is the first professional from her tribe who has been able to come back and serve her them in such a life-changing way. She is the pride of her family and the entire Tala-andig tribe! She sees each challenge as simply another step in reaching her dreams. 

There is no doubt that through the Tigbaw school and loving teachers like Elsa, children’s lives will be changed for generations to come. Despite the struggles they face, there is joy, excitement, and the sweet promise of a brighter future. Thank you for your continued commitment and for realizing that even one tiny schoolhouse can make a huge impact!

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