What’s your why?

I want to tell you the story of something that matters to me.

The girls in this picture are the Jerao girls. The structure behind them is their new house my wife and I are helping build for them through the generous fundraising of friends and colleagues. I met the Jeraos in Panay, Western Visayas, Philippines last year during a joint Marine Corps/Philippine army operation called Balikitan. I got involved because early on in getting to know them (they lived across from where my military unit was based), I realized they were being tricked into a probable human trafficking trap. When I realized that, I also knew that same instant that because I knew I could stop it, I had to. That meant I was in for a long haul.

Abigail, the middle girl in blue was the trafficking target. As I sat with her family and mapped out a possible alternate plan for her after high school, she commented that college was off the table for “a scrappy little nobody” from the jungle. College in the Philippines would cost her a whole $300! For a family of 9 living on $20 a week, college couldn’t even be considered. I worked with her via Facebook over the year that has transpired since on how to approach college applications and this just came in last week:

That’s a college acceptance letter.

Using the laptop we bought her (Powerpoints are mandatory for application) she applied and was accepted to an Accounting program. Not sure what the remaining part of tuition is, but I know it’s covered. It’s one of the reasons I work. We’ll get her and her sisters set up securely before we all go our separate ways.

At this point, my family is going to pay them a visit next week (March 27 until April 13) to help finish their house. From a bamboo hut to a cinderblock and steel structure, they have a much more secure location now. Typhoon and intruder resistant as well, and one that they can have for generations and perhaps create some equity. All in all, it will cost around $7500. My wife and I put in $3500 and the remaining is coming from donations.

I know a lot of people feel upset about how things are in the world. My sense is we should do something about it. We’re raising the last $2000 or so to finish the project. If you are interested in helping, it would be appreciated.

You might just be able to change the lives of these kids. It’s my why.


About Jake

Veteran, professional career coach, resume writer, LinkedIn builder.

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