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Simon’s story (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Simon’s story (part 2)

The Edrote family is among those forced to live in tents following 2011 typhoons that affected hundreds of thousands of people. The family will move into
a Habitat home in the Philippines, which was built during Habitat’s Youth Build in May. ©Habitat for Humanity International/Mikel Flamm

What do we get from being poverty-fighting students?


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Why We Build


At a young age, we now have a purpose. Finding meaning in life is no joke. Spiritual emptiness can easily dissolve tangible wealth and fame. When our minds and hearts were opened, I considered that moment the greatest gift.

Alex Eduque, Isabel Martel Francisco, Kevin Yang, Gaby Montinola and Pedro Roxas are more than just Youth Council members to me. They are heroes, which I used to think existed only in movies like “The Avengers.” Part of the reason I joined the Youth Council was to meet new friends with similar intentions. And I do love and admire the people I work with.

And as we serve, we begin to lead.

Over the months, I’ve learned lessons that could never be taught in a classroom. I’ve experienced a tiny fraction of the poverty that 90 percent of Filipinos live with daily. We can never fully understand poverty unless we are in their position.

Looking back, none of my problems or personal losses could compare with those of the people who will be living in the houses we helped build that one day in May. We all learned the importance of managing the challenges you encounter and creating something full of love in a hostile environment.

Before I knew it, I had put up a peaceful and ideal home in my heart.

This is why I build.

Simon Romulo Tantoco, 21, is a member of the Habitat for Humanity Youth Council. A version of this article first appeared in May in the Philippine Star newspaper.


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