Ticket to Life: The irony of a slice of Pizza
This week’s feature story by Bryan DG
“You should take pride on who you are today, your courage and resilience have made you a better person. You are one of the best examples of Scouts because despite of difficult life circumstances, you chose to be better” - an inspiring message from WOSM Secretary General Ahmad Alhendawi to a group of street kids whose lives changed by joining Scouting through the Ticket to Life (TTL) Project.
As part of his visit to the Asia-Pacific Support Centre, Mr Ahmad Alhendawi met with a Scout Troop in Manila, Philippines supported by APR Ticket to Life Project. It was a day filled with excitement and inspiration amongst the Scouts. Meeting a Scouting personage is a common occurrence for them, for one, the King of Sweden King Carl Gustaf XVI has also visited them in 2014. And every time, these Scouts whose lives began on the street continue to inspire with the incredible transformation they brought upon themselves.
Queenie Morales, a young girl who spent 18 years living in a park and doing her homework under the streetlight will graduate next year from a university as a teacher.
Joseph Anderson, a boy who sleeps in a parked public transport jeepney is now a third-year university student taking up a course in Banking and Finance.
Jerwin Gonzales, a boy who was a street snatcher and drug-dependent is now one of the trained Scout Leaders in this troop. “ When I started, I was only in it for the food, and because there was Pizza! Eventually, with the activities we were doing, I learned that I can do and be better” shared Jerwin.
“These children are true heroes” said Sophie Castillo, the troop’s coordinator. “In nine years of this Scout group’s existence, I grew up with them, saw a different and humbling perspective in life and I found God amongst these children. I gained 40 children and I realized how blessed I am”.
Not only did this project helped develop these children into positive members of their community, it also gave them a home with a peculiar set of family.
“I don’t know where I would be if not for Scouting and the Ticket to Life Project. It gave me a sense of purpose, confidence to dream and develop aspirations to serve others. Most of it all, a family” shared Joseph.
At the end of the simple gathering, Ahmad treated them with pizza for lunch as a reminder that the road to creating a better world starts with what seems to be the simplest of steps. In this one, a free slice of pizza.
The Ticket to Life Project is a flagship project currently implemented by the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (APR-WOSM) to integrate street children in society through Scouting. A group of committed and compassioned especially trained Scouts venture out onto the streets, rubbish dumps and parking lots which are often home to young boys and girls who may be living in disadvantage families, an outcast or orphans. This project aspires to mentor them in various aspects such as Education, Discovery of self-worth and esteem, Personal development, Self- exploration and Team spirit.