Girlie P. Ganton is a 15-year-old girl and part of the B’laan tribe of Polomolok, South Cotabato, in the Philippines. There are eight people in her family, and since the death of her mother a couple of years ago, her father has not been able to care for all of his children sufficiently, including one disabled child, with the money from his job as a general laborer. Consequently, Girlie and her older sister, Leah, were sent to the Haven of Hope Orphanage. But a special opportunity awaited them there.
GROW (Girls’ Right to Opportunity Worldwide) is a signature project of GreaterGood.org dedicated to identifying and removing the barriers to education for girls all over the world. It does this by ensuring that girls get educated and supporting and monitoring them as they work on the projects they think are most important to their families and communities.
Girlie and Leah, supported by scholarships from GreaterGood and Seeds of Dignity, have been attending school full-time and dreaming of going to college so that they can end the cycle of poverty in their family. The scholarships pay for their tuition and provide them with uniforms, school supplies, bus fares, books, field trip fees, and other school fees.
Now 15 years old, Girlie is in 9th grade at Holy Cross Academy of Davao. She enjoys intramural sports like softball and volleyball, which she says have helped her express herself and boost her self-confidence. Her favorite subject is English, and she enjoys singing as a hobby.
“I am really encouraged and motivated to study hard because of you,” Girlie writes in an application for continued scholarship help. “I have 8 subjects now, and I have one subject that is really difficult for me. I have a low grade in my math subject because it’s very hard to memorize the formulas, and sometimes I don’t know how to solve them.”
Sadly, Girlie’s difficulties with mathematics may mean she might not be able to attend a four-year college to become a teacher, but she still hopes to attend a two-year vocational school and get a good job. Because of her poor background, she’s exceptionally motivated to finish school and get into the workforce, so there’s still hope that she’ll achieve that teaching dream after all!
Girlie works hard at school and on her homework, and she’s doing much better at her current school than she did at the government school she started out in. She appreciates the dedication of the teachers at Holy Cross.
And her drive to succeed doesn’t stop there. She has also gone above and beyond in a new role as an assistant junior staff member at the orphanage, which involves taking on extra duties and chores before and after school, such as cooking, cleaning, and helping care for the younger children.
Girlie enjoys school but is burdened by life in an institutional setting. She hopes that her education will help her get a job and provide for her family so that her siblings and future children will not have to live in an orphanage like she did. When she graduates from school, she would like to marry and raise children in a loving home where all their basic needs are met.
“Thank you so much for the support you have given to me even though we are not related to each other,” writes Girlie. “Thank you Seeds of Dignity and GreaterGood for helping me with my education. I really appreciate your investment in helping other people. Thank you once again. Love, Girlie.”
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?