Lemuel is 8 years old, the eldest of five children, and small for his age. He lives in the Philippines, near the Visayan coast. The family’s home is in the slums. Their roof is made of tin, and the walls are a mixture of weathered boards and cloth. It provides little shelter from the elements, especially during the summer monsoon season.
Lemuel’s parents run a food stall, and they sell barbecued meat every night just outside their home. This business earns about 300 pesos each day, or nearly $6.00. Their family’s daily income is less that one hour’s minimum wage in the United States, which is not enough to feed a family of seven.
Lemuel has a keen awareness of his family’s circumstances, and he feels a duty to help. He is the oldest boy, so he works after school as a “ball boy” for the local tennis court. Lemuel wears his uniform under his school clothes, so that he can go directly to work after his classes. Every day, he works from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and sometimes a kind tennis player will buy him dinner. Lemuel’s earnings go to his mother to help purchase food for the family and diapers for his youngest brother.
Most days, Lemuel goes to school hungry. He sometimes misses class because he has nothing to eat in the mornings. When there are extracurricular activities, Lemuel asks to be excused. He spends the extra time collecting recycled materials to sell. He wants to get an education, but his family’s circumstances make it impossible to afford school supplies.
Through Feed the Children, Lemuel received a backpack, school materials, and shoes. He told us that these supplies make a difference in his life, and he uses them every day. Even at his young age, Lemuel knows that education is a way to help his family get out of poverty, and he is willing to do whatever it takes. He describes their life as “very difficult, but I will strive hard to go to school so that I can help my mother.”
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