By: Maria Rosario Garcia, Sponsorship Communication Coordinator
At a time where most children are hooked on gadgets, 13 year-old Justin loves to spend time in his neighborhood to read along with other children. He wants to encourage more children to read so they can help build a better community even at a young age.
Justin has lived with his grandparents since he was nine years-old after the death of his mother and his father’s absence from the family. Yet, despite this heartbreak, he remains positive about life. During our conversation, Justin’s eyes show a deep sense of sadness and longing for his parents. But I was surprised at the sudden change of his emotions. His eyes suddenly brightened up, as he said: “I use these hurtful experiences as my motivation to study and work hard for my dreams.”
Fortunately, in 2016 he found support and opportunity through various Save the Children educational programs designed to improve the learning environment at school and in the wider community. He soon joined a reading camp that encouraged his passion for reading and story telling. Seeing some of his classmates struggle to read even simple words made him realize that if he could do it, others could, too. This in turn created a desire to share his knowledge and love of reading to his peers, and he soon became a reliable “Reading Buddy” at his school and in his community.
He believes reading is one of the most important things that children can do to educate themselves, fuel their imagination, and help their community to grow. During his free time, Justin walks around narrow alleys in his village to invite children to read along and listen to his stories. “I do this because I want to be an inspiration to young people and I want to help end poverty,” he explains.” He finds joy seeing the dazzling faces of other children who imagine that they are part of the stories. Weekends and holidays are not wasted for our little champion. Justin never gets tired of moving around and giving his time and effort to make a difference in his own way. Through his leadership, he continues to serve, encourage, and inspire children to dream and strive to become achievers.