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Rhiane gets school ready in the Philippines

07 February 2022, Impact of Our Work

Save the Children supports every child to start the school year right

Going back to school isn’t the same for every child. 12-year-old Rhiane from the Philippines is a bright, eager student who loves to learn. But her disability means she struggles to get to school.

Rhiane was born with an orthopaedic condition that makes it very difficult for her to walk. She only has an old walking frame to help her move to different parts of her home.
Rhiane lives with her grandmother and with her sister. Together she and her sister like to play games with their cousins who live nearby. However, when Rhiane needs to go outside, her grandmother has to carry her.
Rhiane wishes she had a better assistive device to help her in her movement, especially when she goes to high school this year, now that she has graduated elementary school.

Rhiane, who was born with an orthopaedic condition that makes it difficult to walk, uses a walking frame
to move around her family home.
Photo: Myka Viernes/Save the Children Philippines.    

Financial worries another burden

When Save the Children’s BURST project first started working with her family, financial troubles were making it even more difficult for Rhiane to get the support she needed. Rhiane and her family were forced to relocate from their informal settlement in Manila and when they arrived in their new home, they had no income and no electricity.
Her mother had to move back to the city and only her grandmother was left to take care of Rhiane and her sister. Rhiane’s mother found work in Manila as a cashier in a laundromat. She was able to send Php 1000 ($28 AUD) a week home so that Rhiane, her sister and their grandmother had some money to sustain their needs. However, this income was precarious and sometimes Rhiane and her grandmother didn’t have enough money to make ends meet.

Solving one problem at a time

To support Rhiane and her grandmother, Save the Children partnered with a local organisation to provide them with food packs, hygiene items and household supplies. The family was very grateful for this support, which allowed them to eat three times a day. When the COVID restrictions eased, Rhiane’s grandmother enrolled in small business classes run by Save the Children.
Rhiane’s grandmother received ongoing coaching from the BURST team to start a small grocery business with one of her neighbours. Once the business started earning enough income to support Rhiane and her sister’s needs, her grandmother joined some additional sessions on supporting children living with disabilities.
From what the family learnt about the rights of people with disabilities, Rhiane was able to successfully apply for a Persons with Disability identity card. The card gives Rhiane access to local and national government support programs, including discounted medicine and food, and subsidised public transport fares.

Rhiane washes her hands at home to help her family stay covid-safe.  
Photo: Myka Viernes/Save the Children Philippines.


A new beginning

“I have been able to get check-ups even as the ID is still being processed,” Rhiane says. “We also found out that there was a Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office project that offers free wheelchairs. We have already applied for one.”
Excitedly she adds, “if I get a wheelchair, my grandmother will not have to carry me anymore whenever we need to go out. I will be able to go to back to school and attend birthday parties like everybody else.”
The BURST program commenced in 2018 and ended in late 2021. The program helped support children and families who had been relocated from informal settlements to have access to basic social services and appropriate spaces to play, learn and thrive.

Thanks to the generosity of our individual supporters and support from the Australian Government, the project helped countless people like Rhiane and her grandmother to meet their needs, put food on the table and go back to school.    

Save the Children’s BURST program was supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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