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A way back to the right track

DSWD Alex

“Whenever you find yourself walking the wrong path, there is always a chance to go back and find the way leading to the right track.”

For Alex (not his real name), this powerful statement saved him from the darkest moment of his life. Looking back at his journey, 16-year old Alex was caught selling drugs to his friends when the Special Weapons and Tactic (SWAT) Team conducted raid operations in their residence in 2019.

This wrong path, that caused him to drop out of school in his 9th grade, has been rerouted as he was given the chance to be a monitored child of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Considering the new opportunity handed him, Alex decided to enroll for school year 2021-2022.

“Dala sa among kawad-on, patay na akong papa, ug naa sa prisohan akong mama, usa kini sa mga rason ngano nabuhat nako ning mga butanga (Poverty, death of my father, and my mother being inside the jail were some of the reasons why I did these things),” Alex explained.

Alex is second to the youngest in the family. He and his youngest sister were left to the care of their grandmother since their mother was detained. His elder siblings already have their own families and responsibilities.

After the raid, Alex was turned over by the authorities to the local social welfare office. Later, he was referred to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY), a DSWD residential care facility for children in conflict with the law in Region VII. He stayed in the center for 11 months.

While in DSWD’s custody, Alex participated in various activities and followed the rules and regulations implemented inside the center. Likewise, he underwent several counseling sessions, which encouraged him to change his lifestyle and to start anew.

“Sulod sa center daghan kog nakat-unan ug usa na didto ang kabahin sa Ginoo ug paglaum (Inside the center, I have learned many things especially about God and hope),” Alex said.

After 11 months of rehabilitation at the RRCY, Alex left the center in January 2021 and returned to his hometown.

“Dinhi ko nakamatngon nga bati to ang akong gibuhat ug dili nako muusab pa sa illegal nga binuhatan ug mulakaw na sa dalan nga sakto (I realized every wrong doing I have done and the illegal activities I was involved in… things I will never do again. From this, I will find the right path),” Alex shared, as he recalled his stay in RRCY.

Getting inspiration from his mother, who has started a new life and promised to not get involved in any illegal activities, Alex resolved to go back to his studies.

“Samtang aduna pay panahon para magbag-o ug mageskwela, padayon gihapon kita aron makab-ot nato atong pangandoy (Change yourself and go back to school now that you still have time, and continue achieving your dreams),” Alex continue. He hopes to have a brighter future and land a decent job by staying away from his dark past.

While waiting for classes to start, Alex has been working at his uncle’s dried fish business to help his family financially. Alex and his family are grateful that despite their mistakes, there are still people who are willing to help them and believe in their promise to change and start a new life.

With continuous encouragement, social support, counseling, and intervention, the family is now among the 270,223 active beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Region 7. As 4Ps beneficiary, they regularly attend the Family Development Sessions (FDS) that help build their character and their family relationship.

Fortunately for Alex and his family, they were given an opportunity to find a way back to the right path with the help of 4Ps and their resolve to change for the better.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is the country’s flagship social protection program that invests in the health and education of children of more than four million households in the Philippines.