As Robert Maynard Hutchins would say, “The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.”

And these words ring true for civil engineering graduate EJ Pablo. The eldest among four siblings, EJ has been able to keep it together for himself and his family even at a young age.

He vividly remembers when he was still growing up: “We used to be informal settlers. One day, the whole settlement burned down. Everything was wiped out and we weren’t able to bring anything with us.”After their community was razed by a fire, they were left with nothing, and they were forced to move in with their relatives.

“Everything we had was lost. We weren’t able to save anything. We had no choice but to start over,” he says in Filipino. In addition, his parents would always worry about the schooling of their children and that it’s the one thing that they cannot simply take for granted.

Their family then applied to Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ socialized housing project, and underwent a “sweat equity” scheme, in which homeowners participate first-hand in rebuilding their homes — and their lives.

“Aside from trying my best to study in whatever way I can, I carried hollow blocks and swept the rooms. At night, we would also guard the construction site.”

After quite some time, Ej’s family has been living in a safe and decent home for seven years now, and a lot has improved since then.

“We didn’t have running water in our previous community. Here in the community Habitat built for us, we not only have water, but also easy access to supplies. It’s peaceful here, more relaxing and I’m able to study better for my school subjects,” he says.

That is why, at HFHP, we also take into consideration the importance for children to be in a safe environment that’s very conducive for learning. More often than not, we highly encourage our donors to support and further the education of the children in Habitat communities in order for us to provide them a healthy atmosphere for studying. In the case of EJ, he’s a testament of the combined efforts of our regular donors which brings us great delight.

Another feather in EJ’s cap was that he was able to buy his own computer, which he uses for his studies and research. “We didn’t have a computer before, I was able to save up and buy one. I figured also that my siblings would need it for school.”

In a few months, EJ will be preparing for the civil engineering board exam and be well on his way of achieving his dream which is to buy his own house someday.