My name is Anna Victoria Salamat. I am 21 years old. My father is construction worker and my mother is laundrywoman.
My dream back then was to become a flight attendant – simply because they wear high heels, make up, and classy uniforms, and I’d get a high salary. For me to be able to live my fantasy, however, I needed to work at an early age, while studying, because my parents were just earning around P200-300 per day.
When I was elementary school I carried two pails full of fish and vegetables to sell around my community. When I was in high school I became a dishwasher in the afternoon and a tutor at night.
Little by little I actually lost my hope. I envied my classmates who could go to university while I had no choice but to stop studying and become a market saleslady.
That changed when I met Tito Tony. He offered me a scholarship in the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED). SEED’s aim is to build a group of social enterprises that will develop the countryside and create inclusive wealth in the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga and SEED taught me to go out of my comfort zone and into my courage zone, to spread my wings and dream big for the country, with no one will left behind.
The Lord provided with something beyond what I asked. I might not be in an airplane now, serving pasta or champagne, but I am serving hope and stories. I might not be wearing make up or heels but I am wearing confidence and integrity.
Even though I came from the bottom of the pyramid, I had the chance to travel around the country and the world. One of the best opportunities that I had was to visit France last year, travelling to 8 cities and sharing goodness in 21 universities. That gave me so much passion and motivated me to always aim for excellence.
Poverty made me timid, hopeless, and afraid. It made me hungry as well. But poverty became my asset to chase my dreams for my family, community, and country. I dream of communities where no one is hungry, where no one is a slave, where no one is homeless or landless in his/her own country.
Let’s do Bayanihan. Let’s create a safer, fairer, and kinder world together.