The Story of My Life

Growing up without a stable family in the Philippines, Konny Dela Cruz struggled to stay on track — and eventually left school early to work in a garment factory. Then she learned about Holt’s  independent living and educational assistance (ILEA) program — a donor-funded program that helps institutionalized and disadvantaged teens to attend college and learn independent living skills. 

Konny Dela Cruz in her graduation gown.

The story of my life is so beautiful with a lot of learnings.

I was born in 1997. I grew up with a family with whom I have no blood relationship. I was only 2 years old when my mother entrusted me to the care of the landlady of the boarding house where we used to stay because she went to Korea to work.

When I was growing up, I was wondering why there is no name of my father on my birth certificate. I asked the landlady, whom I have been calling grandmother “Lola,” to explain “why I have no father on my birth certificate,” but she would just tell me it is only your mother who can answer your question. And my mother kept ignoring my question, too.

I could not approach any relative because I don’t know anyone — and maybe nobody knows about me, too. Continue reading “The Story of My Life”

When Hope Was Gone

At 7, Evans’ life took a horrible turn. At 16, sponsors and donors gave Evans the chance to dream about a future she never thought possible.

Evans poses in pictures with her students, each holding an award for their accomplishments in her class. One at a time, she hands them their award, smiles, and gives them a quick hug or makes a funny face while the camera snaps a picture. Evans loves her students.

She believes wholeheartedly that each of the kids in her class is special — and that education can help them reach their dreams.

She knows this is true because education also changed her life.


Continue reading “When Hope Was Gone”