For many of us, getting our driver’s license was a big deal. We had spent hours daydreaming about new cars, stereo systems, cross-country road trips. Once the day came, we waited in line at the motor department, smiled for a picture, and showed off the little plastic card in the hallways at school. The long lines, the botched parallel parking — it was all worth it to hold this in our hands: seven square inches of plastic that meant maturity, freedom, and the wide, wide world as seen from behind a safety glass windshield.
But for some youth in our safe homes in the Philippines, getting a driver’s license may be something they hadn’t imagined. First of all, it costs money — and that’s no small obstacle. On top of that, many come into our care without birth certificates. Some don’t even know the legal names their parents gave them. Plus, a driver’s license represents independence, a dream that others have tried to take from them.
So driving, like many things, holds therapeutic potential in our Survivor Care. We made sure that Marcos, a nineteen-year-old in our White Home, had everything he needed to enroll in driving lessons. The Love146 staff member drove him to the vehicle center with his tuition, and Marcos proudly submitted the required documents. Three days later, he was back for his first session.
The first day, he learned the road signs and the parts of the vehicle. The second, he practiced signaling and turning. By the third day, he was driving on a major road. But the fourth was his favorite. (Why? Because he learned to drive in the fast lane!) Once he had gotten good at parking, his instructor congratulated him and told him he had completed the course.
On the way back to the White Home, Marcos expressed how grateful he was that he’d had the chance to learn how to drive, and he said he knows this skill will help him someday. In the Philippines, having a license opens up a lot of career opportunities: It lets you drive cabs, jeepneys, and trucks, and it qualifies you for countless other jobs. For him, it’s also a key step towards an independent future: Now, he has one more tool to help him earn a stable income. This is what we want for our clients: hope for a good future, and trust in their own abilities to get there.
Empowerment isn’t a destination; you can’t just drive there and arrive. But as for Marcos, he knows he’s moving forward on that journey.
Speaking to other children, he shared, “We all have a desire to change our lives, so if you are like me, the only thing we have to do is not to lose hope. The time will come when you’ll be able to stand on your own feet. I’m able to achieve my aspirations in life, little by little.”