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An equal opportunity at life for out-of-school young women

June 08, 2016 | Jamaica Digo

Tzu Chi's 12th Batch of Livelihood Training Program closes on June 8 with 40 graduates. Equipped with employable skills and the right character, these young women are now looking forward to landing a job and one day, lift their family from poverty. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Foundation’s 12th batch of Livelihood Training Program comes to a close through a ceremony on June 8. The event is held at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City and attended by Tzu Chi volunteers, supporters, and the family of the total 40 student graduates.


Mary Julie Sereño was a consistent honor student in her elementary and high school years, but after her father lost his job as a seaman due to an accident, her dream of going to college had been dashed.

Filled with grudge and disappointment toward her parents, Sereño, who is the eldest among a brood of 4, became a stubborn child. At the age of 18, she was already married and pregnant to her first son. Her relationship with her parents had also gone sour. Out of her resentment, Sereño admits that there have been times when she would talk back and argue with them, completely forgetting her manners.

But things changed when Sereño enrolled at Tzu Chi Foundation’s Livelihood Training Program at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. The 4-month course trains out-of-school young women with skills on garment sewing, merchandising, and computer encoding. Their education also consists of Chinese culture and by the end of the program they can effortlessly recite the multiplication table in Chinese. But more importantly, the program teaches them moral values such as respect for all beings, discipline, filial piety, and helping the needy which shaped their character.

“What I have learned the most is the message of the song “Today of Each Day,” shares Sereño. The said song is among the many that Tzu Chi volunteers have taught them throughout the duration of their training. “The song says that it’s not yourself that you should celebrate on your birthday; but that you should thank your parents because they are the ones who gave life to you.”

Realizing her mistakes, 26-year-old Sereño is now on better terms with her parents. On June 8, her mother, Ma. Concepcion, attends her graduation alongside Sereño’s husband and two sons. As she receives her diploma onstage, Sereño happiness cannot be contained.

“I have long dreamed to study,” she tearfully shares after the program. “That’s why I am very grateful to Tzu Chi because they helped me achieve my dreams, little by little. This is really the answer to my prayers – that someone would spend time to educate me.”

46-year-old Ma. Concepcion is just as emotional as her daughter. “I want to thank Tzu Chi because despite the fact that my daughter has children of her own already, they still gave her a chance to study and finish a course,” she says.

“It means a lot to us because it will give her an opportunity to work. That’s very important right now, because how will they support their children if they don’t have a means of income?” Ma. Concepcion adds.

19-year-old Star Poro, also one of the graduates, shares the same sentiment.

Single-handedly raising her 1-year-old son, Poro worked as a saleslady in Divisoria to support him. But with her son’s needs growing every year, she needed a more stable source of income.

That’s when she heard about Tzu Chi’s livelihood program.

“Those who graduated from the program said you would land a job at the end of the training,” Poro says. “So I enrolled for my son; so that he won’t end up like me and so that I can give him a better life.”

Sereño and Poro are among the total 40 students who graduated from Tzu Chi’s Livelihood Training Program on this day. They compose the 12th batch of graduates since the program’s inception in 2010. The ceremony this year is held at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City and gathered the students’ family members, as well as Tzu Chi volunteers and supporters, and some of the training program’s alumni.

Prior to the closing program, many of these young women have almost given up on dreaming, hampered by the lack of confidence on their abilities.

Judylyn Ramirez spent 4 years idle in their home in Barangay Fortune, Marikina City, filled with dread to go out into the world and work.

“I didn’t apply for any job because I don’t have the courage to. I was only a high school graduate,” shares the 20-year-old trainee. “People would always tell me that with a high school diploma, it would be hard to find and land a job.”

Hence, when a flyer, announcing that Tzu Chi’s Livelihood Training Program is opening for a new batch of students, reached her palms, she grabbed the opportunity, knowing in her heart it could change her life forever.

Indeed, it did.

“Now, I am much more confident to apply for job posts because I have earned employable skills that the aunties and uncles (Tzu Chi volunteers) have taught me,” she happily says.

After this day, her fellow trainee, Heraclia Pamisa is also looking forward to a better future. The 28-year-old native of Bukidnon left her hometown in search of greener pasture in Metro Manila; but ended up as a housemaid for 6 years.

“Throughout those years, I lived in a house, doing the same chores every day. I was never able to challenge myself with other work or task. But with the help of our aunties and uncles (Tzu Chi volunteers), it’s not just skills I learned, I also gained the confidence that there are many things I can do aside from performing household chores,” Pamisa, a garment sewing student, shares.

An equal opportunity at life – this is the gift of Tzu Chi Foundation’s Livelihood Training Program for the less-privileged students.

  • The 12th batch of Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program came to a close through a ceremony on June 8. The program is held at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City and attended by Tzu Chi volunteers and supporters, and the graduates' family members. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • In gratitude to the Tzu Chi volunteers and supporters who made Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program a success, the graduates perform a sign language of the song "Today of Each Day." The song reminds everyone not to celebrate lavishly on our birthday; instead, use it to honor our parents who reared us. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • The Livelihood Training graduates showcase their creations during a portion of the closing ceremony on June 8. Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program teaches young women skills on garment sewing, merchandising, encoding, and bookkeeping. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • The graduates of the Livelihood Training Program presented a short skit titled "Anak," which mostly mirrors the real-life story of the graduates before they enrolled at the program. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Heraclia Pamisa, 28 years old, one of the graduates shares how her life completely turned around because of the Livelihood Training Program. From being a housemaid for the last 6 years, she is now more confident to take on new jobs as she has gained employable skills and character from Tzu Chi's program. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Mary Julie Sereño recalls how her heart was filled with grudge and disappointment to her parents when they were unable to send her to college. But when she enrolled at Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program, she learned the virtue of filial piety and she learned to forgive and respect her parents. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • An emotional Mary Julie Sereño and her mother, Ma. Concepcion, attends the closing ceremony of Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program on June 8. After becoming a rebellious daughter in the last years, Mary Julie now learns to be filial. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • 19-year-old Star Poro, proudly shows her certificate completion. A single mother, the skills she gained from the Livelihood Training Program will help her find a better job to provide the needs of her son. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • A total of 40 young ladies comprise Tzu Chi's 12th Batch of Livelihood Training Program. The 4-month course teaches the students skills in garment sewing, merchandising, bookkeeping, and encoding. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Forty young ladies are now looking at their future with fresh hopes as they finish the 4-month course on garment sewing, merchandising, bookkeeping, and encoding under Tzu Chi's Livelihood Training Program. These ladies are former out-of-school youth who have been empowered to reach for their dreams using the skills and values they gained from Tzu Chi Foundation. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Judylyn Ramirez is filled with excitement to receive her certificate of completion. Prior to the Tzu Chi Livelihood Training Program, Ramirez did not have the confidence to apply for jobs since she was only a graduate of high school. Now that she has learned skills that will get her employed, she says, she can face the future more confidently. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Recognizing the talents of the students, Tzu Chi also gave out special awards such as Best in Cursive Writing and Best in Print Script Writing. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi Foundation also recognized the students' talent in Cursive and Print Script Writing during the closing ceremony. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Ending the program, the Livelihood Training graduates lead everyone in a prayer. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • The 40 students of Tzu Chi's 12th Batch of Livelihood Training Program with the Tzu Chi volunteers who supported and guided them through the 4-month training pose for a souvenir photo after the closing ceremony. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】


  • Livelihood Training Program Graduation

  • LAST UPDATED: July 09, 2018 11:07 AM