Nine years ago, Grace turned 6 years old and was anxiously awaiting her first day of school. In the Philippines, where she lived, Grace had just become old enough to be eligible for kindergarten. This was the big day she’d been waiting for.

But the kindergarten she would attend was miles away. She and 32 other children in Pulong Visaya, Philippines, would have to make a dangerous trek alongside busy roads to get there.

There was no doubt that it was too treacherous a journey for 6 year olds to make alone. So one afternoon, with the help of an Outreach Philippines staff member, the parents in Pulong Visaya met underneath the local mango trees to talk about alternative options for education.

The solution they decided on, overwhelmingly, was to build a school within Pulong Visaya for the local children. So they did just that. And today, the school has been in operation for 8 years.

Now, Grace is 15 years old and in 9th grade. Looking back, she says she couldn’t have pursued secondary education without that kindergarten.

After struggling for a few years, the kindergarten now not only meets the basic criteria for an operational school in the Philippines, it also includes a feeding program and school supplies for the children.

“Education is important,” said Grace. “I need an education because I want to become a teacher, and I can’t do that without studying. I don’t want to be dependent on my parents forever; I want to help them. And when I become a teacher, I’ll help other children, too.”