I had always dreamt of being an Astronomer when I was young. I thought that if I become an Astronomer, I will be able to go to the outer space. It was when I grew up that I realized if I want to go to outer space, I need to be an Astronaut.

I never thought that my dream of being an Astronomer would change before I realized that it would not get me to the outer space. I started rethinking my goal and ambition on one rainy day in second grade while I was on my way to school. On my way to school, I needed to walk through hectares of rice fields. Most often than not, on rainy days these rice fields were planted with palay which are taller than I am. Just imagine a second grade walking in the middle of the rice fields with palay, and it is raining; it was heartbreaking, right? On rainy days, I would usually arrive at school soaking wet and most often than not, covered in mud. Then once I came, my teacher would say “Go home, classes are canceled.” Imagine that. But these are not the reasons my ambition changed.

On rainy days during those times, my friends from our village don’t go to school. It is either they are working in the rice field somewhere planting palay, or they do not have enough money to cover their allowances. You see, they always take advantage of the days when there were still palay planting jobs because once the planting season is over, there will be no jobs for them. No work means no food which means no money for school. It is also no difference on sunny days. Most of my friends would usually work on harvesting what they planted

I was sad. While I had a blast learning in school, playing with my classmates, and making happy memories, my friends were in the rice fields trying to make a living. At that time, I had hoped I could do something for them. I wished I was wealthy so that I can give them allowances; then they wouldn’t need to miss the school. But I was just a child back then. All I could do was to move forward, leaving my friends behind.

Those days that I spent walking alone going to school on rainy days, I promised to myself that I would work harder so no more kids will miss the school for the same reason my friends did. I promised myself that I would do my best to give the kids in the future a chance to enjoy learning in schools; a chance to make friends and play; a chance to make happy memories; a chance that my friends never had because they had to work at an early age.

I may not have known, what I have wanted back then was called. But in my heart, I had a clear goal and vision. I knew what it was that I wanted to achieve. I wanted to give the kids in the future a chance. I wanted them to go to school without any worries. I wanted them to have a choice other than working in the rice fields. I wanted to give them the chance to dream of becoming an Astronomer or an Astronaut.

I just wanted to give them a chance. A chance that my friends never had.

Years have passed. I went through a lot of hardship. But I never gave up on my goal. I knew that one day, I would be able to fulfill my promise. I would be able to give the kids a chance.

And here I am now, fulfilling the promise I made years ago, with the help of amazing people around me. If it weren’t for them, fulfilling this promise would not be possible

I may not end up being an Astronomer or an Astronaut. I may not have been able to explore the outer space and reach for the stars, but knowing that these kids will have a chance to reach for their stars is enough for me.

It is enough for me to manage Starfish Foundation that gives these kids a chance. It is enough for me to be a Starfisher.

“You should never give up on your dreams.”

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