Nirfe Masudo uses her bike to help earn money to feed her family. She was chosen to receive a bike through the Bikes for Education program offered through Bikes for the Philippines. Nirfe's school, Dr. Beato C. Macayra National High School was selected as a beneficiary school after waiting nearly five years for bikes. The bikes were meant to help students get to school, stay in school, and earn their degrees. But for many students in this poor, struggling area, the bikes mean much more than that.
Dr. Beato C. Macayra National High School is located in the town of Baganga in the province of Davao Oriental on the coast of Mindanao. Mindanao is the southernmost collection of islands in the Philippines and has been affected by armed conflict for decades. Given its geographical distance from Manila, internal struggles, and exposure to extreme weather, it is one of the most challenged areas in the Philippines.
In 2012, Super Typhoon Pablo made landfall striking Davao Oriental as a category 5 storm. It battered this same small community as Tropical Storm Washi, only one year previously. Both storms claimed more than 1,000 lives, crushing homes, and destroying coconut plantations.
Coconut trees were the main source of income for many families in this area. When the storm took the trees, it also took their livelihoods. Six years after Typhoon Pablo devastated this area, not much has changed. Families are still struggling to recover.
Nirfe's family lost their home in Typhoon Pablo. Their current house still carries reminders of the storm that hit before some of her siblings were even born. This family of ten struggles to put food on the table and Nirfe, the oldest enrolled in school, often considers dropping out to help her family with money.
Nirfe's father was forced to quit his carpentry job because of failing eye sight and her mother's health is compromised by diabetes. The family depends on making brooms for income. Now that Nirfe has a bike, she is able to carry a load of brooms to the market where she sells them for 36 cents a piece.
Selling one broom is also the cost of daily transportation to school, 36 cents. For each of the three Masudo children to attend school weekly, it would cost the family $8.25 in transportation fees, a luxury they cannot afford. Even after Nirfe received her bike, her siblings Nerissa and Nicanor continued to walk the 2 miles to school every day.
When the second batch of bikes arrived at Dr. Beato C. Macayra National High School in September, Nerissa and Nicanor joined the ranks of bike beneficiaries. Now all three of them can ride to and from school together, saving a tremendous amount of time and cutting back on the hours spent walking in the brutal heat of the sun.
If I can finish school, I will make my dreams for my family come true. I'll give them a nice house and put my siblings through school.Nirfe Masudo
The Masudo family is learning that a bike could be a ticket to a better life. Through mobility they are pushing themselves to get someplace, like their future. They are propelling themselves to fulfill their dreams.
The video below was produced last fall and tells the story of Jeric, Naque, and Nirfe and her family. Since it was broadcast on GMA in October, we have sadly learned that Nirfe lost both parents. While Nirfe, will likely be unable to graduate as she steps up to care for her siblings, there is hope that Nerissa and Nicanor will be able to stay in school and follow Nirfe's tracks.