Sally Mendoza, 31 – Philippines

“Give up on children and you give up on the future”, my mother would say to me.

As a little girl growing up in thePhilippines, I was so lucky to have a nice home, stable family and parents that loved me. My parents were both teachers and really instilled in me the idea that education could set you free and give you real choices in life. So while I had fun and played with my friends – I also worked really hard at school.

My brothers and I were also taught never to take our good fortune for granted. A twist in fate and our lives could have been so very different.  My mother, in particular, was very active in a number of charities helping the street children of Manila: thousands of children who live in dire poverty and danger from those who pick them up off the street and abuse them. It’s a huge problem and as a family we did all we could to raise awareness and money to help them. And Mum would spend a lot of her free time offering these children the education and health care they so badly needed.

I’ve now moved to London and work as a lawyer, which I love. But I’ve never forgotten that it’s my responsibility to help others where I can. And so I have got involved in the local community offering free legal advice to families in need. Last year, I also ran a Christmas Hamper project with some local friends – supporting families who have very little money to enjoy the festive period. And, of course, I never forget the street children in Manila, and send money home to my Mum and the charity she has now set up to help them.”

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