Former Scavenger Who Lost His Parents at Age 12 Is Now a College Graduate

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
March 26, 2019 Updated: April 1, 2019

Meet Jeb Bayawon, a graduate from the Mindanao State University, the Philippines, whose inspirational story has made the news in his country.

The reason Bayawon’s story has captured the nation’s heart is because he used to live in a landfill in Cagayan de Oro City, working as a garbage collector.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Doidam 10

Growing up, Bayawon and his siblings often foraged for food from leftovers to be recycled or sold recyclable scraps and empty bottles scavenged from the garbage to help their parents.

“We sold the scraps and bottles to the junk shops,” Bayawon told the Rappler.

Even though Bayawon’s family was poor, his father still placed education as a priority and made sure he attended elementary school.

“My father always advised me to go to school,” he recalled.

We're back to being strangers… #familiar? #ootd

Jeb B 发布于 2018年10月8日周一

However, Bayawon didn’t have it easy at school because he smelled terrible, owing to him rummaging about in the trash heap.

As Bayawon reeked with a foul odor, his classmates made fun of him, and every time he opened his packed lunch, “they grimaced because they knew that it came from the trash.”

The bullying caused Bayawon to dislike school. Eventually, he dropped out after both his parents passed away when he was 12. His father succumbed to tuberculosis, and not long later, his mother died after a hypertension attack.

Following his parents’ death, Bayawon was left to take care of himself as his siblings left home in search of a better life. It looked like Bayawon would become a garbage collector for the rest of his life.

Jeb B 发布于 2018年6月18日周一

Fortunately, his destiny changed for the better in 2007 when he met Thomas Kellenberger, a former policeman from Switzerland who founded the Island Kids Philippines Foundation.

Through the foundation, Bayawon was given an allowance, lodging, supplies, and the opportunity to pursue an education. And so, he left the dumpsite and returned to school.

“I continued my studies because I wanted to learn,” Bayawon said. “I didn’t want people to look down on me.”

Phil Island Kids Int'l Foundation, Inc. 发布于 2018年6月13日周三

With diligence and perseverance, Bayawon finished his elementary education, passed the ALS Assessment and Equivalency Test, and made it to the dean’s list during his first semester in college.

Finally, in June 2018, he put on a graduation gown and cap to receive his Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English at the Mindanao State University.

Having earned his degree, Bayawon now hopes to give back to the community by working as a teacher. To achieve this goal, he had to sit for the licensure exam for teaching in September 2018.

Jeb BayawonBachelor of Secondary EducationMajor in English

Phil Island Kids Int'l Foundation, Inc. 发布于 2018年6月13日周三

“Beyond that, I am planning to stay with the IKP Foundation where I can volunteer as an ALS teacher,” he said.

Bayawon graduated from college despite growing up poor and without parents. His story is an inspiration to all. He has proven that disadvantaged children are able to excel in school and pursue their dreams too if they are given the educational opportunity.


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