The ERDA Foundation Inc. helps Filipino children get an education by working with partners and donors, including The Japan Times Readers’ Fund, which has extended support to the group for more than 14 years.

The Pag-asa Group of Japan introduced ERDA to The Japan Times Readers’ Fund. Its donations have helped children receive tuition. Their studies have also been monitored by ERDA partners and community leaders.

The fund has been able to support 25 ERDA children for the 2014-15 school year and 20 children for 2015-16. Three of the beneficiaries were Raiza Tolentino, Kean Geronimo and Aihron Gabriel Balleser, all residents of Metro Manila.

Kean, 7, is a third-grader at Celedonio Salvador Elementary School. He is the eldest of two children. His mother is a homemaker, and his father is a decorator who paints buildings.

Kean’s family lives on the second floor of his grandparents’ house. Kean is also recovering from a heart disease, ventricular septal defect. Still, he remains happy and playful — and has a very good appetite.

Fellow third-grader Raiza, 7, attends Bagong Barangay Elementary School. Her mother is a homemaker and is pregnant with a third child. Her father works in a factory. Raiza’s family lives in a small room in her grandmother’s house.

Other relatives also live at the house. Despite the crowded conditions, Raiza continues to study. She hopes to be a nurse someday and take care of her sick grandmother.

Aihron, 9, is also a third-grader at Bagong Barangay Elementary School. His grandparents have been taking care of him since his parents decided to live separately. His two cousins live with them, too.

They live in a small room owned by a relative. Aihron likes to study and would like to be like his father, who knows a lot about computers.

These ERDA children, their families and the rest of the foundation will always be thankful for the steadfast support of The Japan Times Readers’ Fund. They would also like to wish contributors peace and happiness for the remaining month of the year and for times ahead.

With the help of all donors, ERDA has been able to assist more than 25,000 children in many parts of the Philippines.

Dolora H. Cardeno is the ERDA Foundation executive director.

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