Rhea Bernardez

Live Your Dream Awardee 2019

Rhea initiated a program in 2014 for street children in the public market. Called Sagip Batampalengke (Save the Street Children in the Market), the program started as a “bathing” program for the unkempt children but has evolved into teaching sessions on health and sanitation, literacy and numeracy, religion and value formation, and feeding programs. Sagip Batampalengkehas assisted more than 50 street children with the help of around 20 other volunteer workers. (read more)

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This award seek applicants who have overcome obstacles and are trying to get their lives back on track, build a better life for themselves and their families and lift themselves and their families out of poverty through education and skills training. They have overcome violence, addiction, health issues, the death of a spouse or parent, or mental health. And, they are women with dependents. 

Around the world, households headed by women have the highest poverty rates. Helping these women improve their education offers them the best chance of improving their lives and the lives of their children – ensuring more positive outcomes for generations to come. Specifically, these women:

  • Have had their dreams derailed

  • Are getting their lives back on track

  • Are the heads of their household

  • Care for their dependents

  • Want to increase their standard of living

  • Lack the financial resources to access quality education

Rhea Bernardez is 37 years of age, single, and the eldest of 14 siblings. She has helped her parents care for her siblings since she was 9 years old, when she was only in Grade Three. Her mother would return to her sewing work only after two weeks of giving birth, so Rhea would be tasked to act as the surrogate babysitter. Besides caring for her younger siblings, at a young age Rhea helped to supplement the meager earnings of her parents by sneaking out of the house once in a while to wash the dishes of a neighbor’s carinderia in exchange for food, which she would bring home to her siblings. She took on these responsibilities without complaints, but the different part-time jobs she engaged in while in school have affected her studies. She still has to finish her Psychology course, which she began in 2003. Meanwhile, through her earnings, a younger sister has finished her college education and found employment. Rhea continues to support a younger sibling in college and another in Grade Eleven. Rhea is proud of her siblings’ achievements, even if she herself still has to finish her college degree. Despite these personal difficulties, Rhea initiated a program in 2014 for street children in the public market. Called Sagip Batampalengke(Save the Street Children in the Market), the program started as a “bathing” program for the unkempt children but has evolved into teaching sessions on health and sanitation, literacy and numeracy, religion and value formation, and feeding programs. Sagip Batampalengkehas assisted more than 50 street children with the help of around 20 other volunteer workers.

Given her exceptional achievements as family breadwinner, coupled with her selfless care and compassion for more unfortunate children, the Soroptimist International of the Philippines Region (A Foundation) Inc, or SIPR, has selected Rhea Bernadez as the 2019 Awardee of the Live your Dream Program, for which she will receive $5000 from Soroptimist International of the Americas and PhP10,000 from SIPR. Rhea will be honored during the 27thMid-Biennial Conference of the SIPR,  to be held from May 24-25, 2019 at the Grand Xing Imperial Hotel, in Iloilo City. Presiding over the Conference is current SIPR Governor Lydia C. Co. The Keynote Speaker at the Conference will be Tina Wei-Kang Pan, President-Elect of the Soroptimist International of the Americas. Other invited Speakers are Grace Relucio Princesa, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, and G.H. Ambat, DEPED Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service (PAS) and Alternative Learning System (ALS).

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