Jace's Story

By John Coffey

In 2012, Jace and his family were living in the street under a highway overpass in Manila. Jace was ten years old, and his father had recently passed away. The father was the provider for Jace and his three siblings, so in losing their father they also lost their main source of income and their simple home in the slums. Becoming homeless was another daunting challenge in a long list of overwhelming struggles Jace's single mother Priscilla faced in trying to look after her children as best she could.

The staff from the IT Tender center down the street discovered Jace's family living in abject poverty, and they immediately took action. The staff invited Jace and his siblings to attend the "NightLife" evening program for urban poor children. There at the IT Tender drop-in center Jace enjoyed games, songs, tutorials in basic literacy, healthy meals and even showers. Jace found a warm, safe environment with responsible mentors to guide him and protect him from the streets where he was living. At this time, the social worker of IT Tender established case studies for Jace's family members and explained to the family the various services the government and other social welfare agencies provided for families living in poverty in Manila.

IT Tender encouraged Priscilla that they would help provide her children with a quality education. Jace's younger siblings attended the daycare, his older brother was tutored to pass a high school equivalency exam, and Jace himself became a sponsor child so he could go to school. The sponsorship program at IT Tender provides Jace with daily transportation to school, lunches, and school supplies. Beyond this, the program is holistic in offering families medical support, livelihood trainings, and developmental programs like annual family camps, field trips, counseling, and more.

By helping Priscilla's children go to school, this relieved a large financial burden for Priscilla, and all of the earnings from her small business now went towards housing and food for her family. Life improved for the family as they moved from the streets into a simple community of shanties stacked up to three levels high and built around an electric tower. Their living conditions were not yet ideal, but this was a vast improvement from living without four walls and a roof.

Tragically, in 2017, Jace's community was destroyed by a fire. 50 families (over 400 people) lost their homes. The government provided an open pavilion as an evacuation center for the families to stay for a couple weeks. However, the space was too crowded for everyone, and so IT Tender allowed children and youth to take shelter in its drop-in center.  At this time, despite losing his home and everything he owned, Jace volunteered to help tutor the younger children and assist them with their school work. In spite of the difficult situation, Jace discovered a passion for teaching children and sharing his talents and time with those in need.

Thanks to its compassionate donors, IT Tender was able to provide housing a livelihood opportunities for each of the families who lost their home in the fire. Jace's family moved into a proper home, and IT Tender helped Priscilla convert the front of their house into a small convenience store for her to earn and provide for her family.

Today, Jace continues to go to high school thanks to IT Tender's "Sponsor-A-Child" program. He is also a regular volunteer, teaching children at IT Tender's feeding program and after-school programs. Jace attends leadership trainings and camps through IT Tender, and he has truly developed into an agent of change in his community.