“My father peddles drugs and is now wanted by the authorities. My mother ran away and left me with my grandmother who drinks and gambles. I fend for myself.”
“I don't know where my real father is. I grew up with my mother who is often beaten black-and-blue by my cruel stepfather who treats me like a housemaid, while spoiling my half sisters.”
“There are days when we go to bed without anything to eat, and wake up to another day which promises more hunger and debts.”
These are true stories. And there are more where they come from.
If you think you can find a hint of a success story lurking behind these tales, you can wait forever. There are no success stories forthcoming. Everything is like a saga after saga of dark and dreary events.
This had been my daily fare for three days in a resort in the outskirts of Manila with an international organization that helps send indigent kids to college. I was one of eight interviewers who had to decide which 60 among the 72 hopefuls (the poorest of the poor) would be chosen for the scholarship program in a university of the student's choice.
It was not only difficult, it was mentally draining and heart breaking. I felt like I was playing god—a role nobody can handle nor deserve.
With every kid, we prayed for the Lord to guide us and give us the grace of discernment to understand each one's aptitude, attitude, and qualifications.
I am home now but the images of those stories haunt me still.
In two days I will conduct my class in the university where my moneyed college students (they live in manors, palaces, or humongous houses in posh villages) exchange concerns that range from buying the latest Prada bag or Tory Burch shoes to spending the weekend in HK or Bora.
And their success stories? Why, there are so many, time is too short to tell them all.
Up close, how does one deal with such contrast?