The dream doesn’t end for eleven lucky students because of the project initiated by Erin Dominique Chua, The MEALenium Project’s Scholarship Program Chairperson. These teenagers from Payatas will be continuing their studies as the first batch of scholars of The MEALenium Scholarship Program.

The scholarship program became an offshoot of The MEALenium Project, a sustainable and collaborative effort of the community, corporations, and private individuals, whose long-term vision is to help kids from Payatas escape the cycle of poverty. They do this by giving malnourished children a fighting chance in life through proper nutrition for healthy bodies and education to help them fulfill their dreams.

Erin Dominique Chua interviews with parents of scholars to assess their needs.

Erin Dominique Chua with a beneficiary family. The scholarship program is met with cheers from delighted parents who are beneficiaries of the program.

In 2017, Chua got the idea of creating a scholarship fund over a family discussion. Already a long-time supporter and member of The MEALenium Project, Chua spoke to the Payatas community representatives to ask if there was a need for scholarship funding. At that time, the community funds were sufficient to send scholars to finish SY 2017-2018.

However, in April of 2018, the community representative reported that their current funding for Payatas scholars was not renewed. If unable to seek new sponsors, the student scholars will have to drop out from school for SY 2018-2019.

Through the initiative of Chua, The MEALenium Scholarship program was launched. With only a month and a half before the June enrollment, Chua as Scholarship Program Chair and the rest of The MEALenium Project team looked for sponsors and funding. With persistence and through door-to-door solicitations, they were able to raise enough funds in time to send 11 students back to school for SY 2018-2019.

Previous community scholars, who are either in their last year of high school or in their first year in college, were selected as part of the first batch of beneficiaries:

In photo: Erin Dominique Chua, Scholarship Program Chair (2nd person from left) and Joshua Emmanuel Tan (first person from right) with the 2018 Scholars of The MEALenium Project.

The students in SY 2019-2018 program are:

1 Abbey Gonzalez: First Year Student – Business Management at Polytechnic University of the Philippines

2 April Joy Fulgencio:  12th Grade – Commonwealth High School

3 Ardel Alyaniza Amila: First Year Student – BS Medical Technology at Our Lady of Fatima University

4 Chris Louise Vencio:  First Year Student – College

5 Christal Jane Apuya:  First Year Student –  BS Biology at Rizal Technological University

6 Jihan Beloria:  First Year Student – Financial Management at Polytechnic University of the Philippines

7 Joefrey Diaz:  First Year Student –  BS Electronics Engineering at Quezon City Polytechnic University

8 Joy Therese Caermare: 12th Grade  Commonwealth Highschool

9 Ma. Jocelle Villaruel: First Year Student – BS Psychology at Philippine Normal University

10 Micah Joy Barrota: First Year Student –  BS Information Technology at Quezon City Polytechnic University

11 Rudina Mae Soriano: First Year Student –  BS Applied Mathematics at Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Chua said that they are currently working on more fundraising projects that will help sponsor these students through the rest of their years in school. The MEALenium Project is currently collaborating with Messy Bessy, to create household cleaners and personal products to sell at pop-up stores starting this November. This effort will not only increase awareness about The MEALenium Project’s causes but also raise funds to be able to support the Payatas community beneficiaries.

“Education is something that is very essential to a person’s life. These students that we are sponsoring have dreams of getting jobs to help their families, to support them and believe that by getting the right education they will do so,” Chua said.