Scholars Spotlight: Persevering through the Pandemic

July 10 marked the end of the school year for students here in the Philippines. It was a challenging year academically. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning shifted from the face-to-face setting to a distance education format. Modules replaced physical interactions. Children had to stay at home and learn within the confines of their homes throughout the academic year.
It was not easy for our scholars because the jobs of their parents were affected by the lockdown.  For example, the fathers of Jobel and Ezekiel work as porters in the nearby pier. But due to the transportation restrictions, their earnings became more irregular. Ivy’s mom, on the other hand, worked as a massage therapist before the pandemic. Sadly, she lost her job when the owner closed the shop because of restrictions on such businesses.  Paul’s and Shinica’s dads used to work full-time. However, their work hours were reduced because of the low demand in their respective offices. Because of these financial constraints, the allowance that the scholars received from the Tiwala educational grant became invaluable help to tide them over and supply their basic needs.
The distance education setup has also widened the gap in learning between those who have access to digital devices and the internet to those who do not. To assist our scholars in their studies, we rolled out our educational tablets pre-loaded with instructional videos for their classes. The Tiwala staff team also assisted them technically so that they could use and be comfortable with the digital technologies. These tools greatly aided the scholars in understanding their lessons and completing their academic requirements.
Another challenge that our scholars faced was the mental and emotional stress brought about by the restrictions of staying indoors and limiting social interactions. To help them cope well, our Tiwala teachers came alongside them every week during the Scholars Huddle time. Discussions on Biblical principles and life skills were tackled during this weekly mentoring period. They were also encouraged to hone their skills and pursue other interests to continue to grow in other areas of their lives.  Ezekiel, for example, learned to play the guitar. Janica honed her skill in playing the keyboards. Others were encouraged to express their emotions and creativity through arts and crafts.
Meanwhile, parental support was also given through home visits and family strengthening sessions. Tips and principles were shared with the parents of the scholars on how they can help their children in their studies and home life.
After ten months of this pandemic school year, we are happy to report that all of our Tiwala scholars – thirty of them – successfully completed the school year! Seven graduated from the elementary level: Wenn, Isabel, Shinica, Janno, Gwyneth, Kateleen, and Kim. The high school scholars continued to achieve high grades despite the limitations and challenges they faced. More than these academic achievements, however, we rejoice in the character they exhibited under pressure. During difficult times our scholars grew in their faith in God and in perseverance – qualities that will help them to succeed in the days ahead.
A debt of gratitude goes out to all of you who continue to support us through your prayers, practical help, and financial donations. You enable us to forge ahead during this challenging time. We pray that you will continue to experience the Lord’s provision, provision, presence, and power. Maraming salamat!Blessings, 
Tiwala Kids & Communities Team