At the age of eight she was scavenging in the streets to sustain her schooling.
Ma. Georgia “Maggie” Cogtas who has a twin brother, was a grade three pupil of a public school in Cebu City at that time. She is second to the youngest among the seven siblings. Their mother left for Manila to work as a house help. Their father, a machine operator of a furniture rm, succumbed to his vices and practically abandoned them.
Except for their two elder sisters who lived separately with the own families, they were forced to salvage recyclable materials and sell these to earn their living.
Of the siblings, Maggie found the company of a friend who was into scavenging and adopted their “culture” for a decade until she reached a turning point. She belonged to a category of street children who work on the streets but return to their homes after.
After graduating from high school, she followed the path of her elder sister, Mayren. Maggie became a scholar of Dilaab Foundation, Inc. which implements a holistic type of college scholarship program for the poor and deserving students in partnership with the University of Cebu.
Her first six months of immersion with the foundation was a paradigm shift and it was not easy. Aside from attending to her studies she has to internalize her Dilaab assignments. Although she earns an allowance from her work she valued more the spiritual development. And among the activities she will always cherish was her engagement with the street children.
“It is easy to journey with them, teaching hygiene practices, tutoring, creative catechesis and engaging the parents because I was once one of them. I know how di cult it was to scavenge while people just look at you,” she recalls.
For Maggie it is a learning experience, one of them a person with disability, taught her a lesson: weakness is an opportunity to excel.
“My experience in Dilaab is a series of transformation. My life transformation is like a butter y. I learn to accept my potentials as a role model ate to street kids, a loving daughter, great servant and a faithful Catholic,” she re ects.
“I slowly learned to pray and realized how God loved us and not abandoned us even at a time when I thought he had,” adds Maggie now 22 and a graduate of a degree in Bachelors of Arts, Major in Psychology from the University of Cebu. Her sister also graduated from A.B. Political Science while her twin brother has passed the government’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) and is now ready to enter college.
Maggie who is now involved in the advocacy of Dilaab as program o cer along with her sister said her unforgettable and most grateful thing that happened in her life is when she was chosen to give testimony before thousands of local and foreign delegates of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) held last year in Cebu.
“I was standing there as a representative of street children, an inspiration to them, an eye-opener for the rest,” she said. Indeed, as a result, the moral support was outpouring and one group of delegates from South Korea even donated an amount.
Maggie’s path is also taken by two other scholars, Lorenz and Darline who are now both successful in their own chosen elds. And lately, three students have joined and enrolled in the program.
“I am most grateful to God that there is now forgiveness in the family. I am blessed by God and I am o ering myself as a blessing for others,” Maggie emphasized. (DN)