MariaLita: Sharing What She Has Learned


Although MariaLita’s poor family couldn’t afford to send her to school, her heart’s desire was to get an education. Determined, MariaLita would work a year and save her money, then go to school for a year. But one “job” she was tricked into taking turned out to be as a prostitute at a bar. Her new employers beat her, forced her to stay, and threatened to kill her and her family if she tried to run away.

Finally rescued by police, MariaLita found a new home at Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch (HHCR) at the age of 16. Because she was so far behind in school, MariaLita was placed in the high-school equivalency program to earn her diploma. It was quickly apparent that the compliant, soft-spoken girl was highly intelligent. She expressed a strong desire to become a missionary and teacher. After just one year, she passed her equivalency test and was ready to take her next steps away from HHCR.

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At the same time, HHCR was searching for a coordinator for one of their sponsorship programs in Boracay, a nearby island. MariaLita seemed a perfect fit for the job. The local pastor accepted her and soon gave a glowing report of how MariaLita had won the hearts of the Ati tribal people she was working with. In fact, he said he had never seen the Ati invite a stranger into their hearts as they had MariaLita.

He was so impressed with her skills that he put her through a training program for the Ati’s local school. MariaLita is now a teacher and missionary there, the very thing she had longed to be.

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