This group of scholars created their own scholarship to help a fellow poor student – and he doesn’t even know.
His name is Patrick. This story will make you realise something important about having enough.
Every university student who hasn’t been lucky enough to be born into a well-off family knows the struggle. You search for any way possible to pay for your university fees. Maybe you start a business on the side, or you take a PTPTN loan. If you’re lucky, you could apply for and win a scholarship – but there are always a million applicants, and not everyone can get one.
It’s the same situation in the Philippines. While some poor students are able to get financial assistance from the government to fund their education, it will never be enough.
But for these scholars, they believe in making the most of what they have. And while what they have isn’t much (they’re on financial assistance too), together, they’re saving enough money to put one more deserving student through higher education.
And he doesn’t even know who they are.
Meet The Ultra Mega Friends Foundation (UMFF)
Giving was never about the wallet. It was always about the heart.
These are the first words you hear from Adele Intervalo, Ultra Mega Friends Foundation (UMFF) member and co-founder.
Adele and her friends are “scholars of the people”, the term the people of Philippines use to describe those needy students who excel in their academics and are given scholarships by the government. (It’s a term we truly love!)
As scholars, they know for themselves the feeling of cutting every single expense, day to day, just to make sure their monthly allowance lasts. They’d skip meals. Some would walk to school instead of taking the jeep.
But even in the tough situation they found themselves in, Adele and 29 other friends found space in their heart to help another struggling student.
“I skip meals, or sometimes don’t eat for a day, so I can get that 150 pesos every month.”
Every month, Adele and 29 more fellow scholars of the people put aside 150 pesos (RM12.80) to contribute to the Ultra Mega Friends Foundation (UMFF) scholarship. Their own financial situation meant they had to skip meals, or walk to university instead of taking the jeep. But to them, it was worth it.
In a month, they would together collect 4,500 pesos. In a year, they’d have 54,000 pesos. That’s almost RM4,600. Certainly enough to be a massive help to a fellow struggling student in need.
After founding UMFF, they went out to look for a deserving student they could sponsor. That’s when they met Patrick.
“I stopped schooling after high school. I couldn’t afford college.
Patrick’s family was “drowning in debt.” His results were good, and he had a drive to study. But he knew he couldn’t afford to continue his studies after high school, even though he was “cooking for other people” to try and earn some money.
After UMFF made him their very first scholar, Patrick entered a polytechnic university in Marakina, Philippines. With all of the money Adele and UMFF saved every month, and the scholarship created by the 30 struggling students just like him, Patrick’s life was put on an entirely different track.
As Adele puts it, “We all see a little bit of ourselves in Patrick, whose courage and persistence are a lesson that go beyond any classroom.” And without Patrick even realising it, the people funding his education knew personally – more than many others – exactly what this opportunity meant to him.
The story could end here, and it would have already been an amazing, touching and inspiring one. But there’s one final part we think is especially important. It’s the effect of what happens next after the scholarship.
“This help doesn’t end with me. I will keep it going, and hope the next person does too.”
“I told myself, after I graduate from college, I will also help someone else. Someone who is also in dire straits like I was. Someone with no money, but the heart and the determination to get an education. I will do this so this help doesn’t end with me.
And hopefully, the person I help will, in turn, keep it going and pass on what we learnt from this scholarship.”
As Adele shared at the start, helping others is never about the wallet, or amount of time or money or effort you put in. It’s about the heart – and it never just stops there. Doing good things multiplies happiness and good in the world in ways you might never even know.
Here at Skolafund, we believe strongly in everything that the Ultra Mega Friends Foundation stand for. We believe that brilliant students without financial means still deserve higher education. We believe that if we all come together and give whatever little we have, we can make huge differences in the lives of our youth. We believe that it was never about the wallet, but it is always about the heart.
All the best to everyone at Ultra Mega Friends Foundation and Patrick – the scholars of the people.
This story was produced by Our Better World. Full credit and gratitude goes out to them for sharing it with us. You can read their article in English or Mandarin, and watch the video they produced about UMFF here.
Inspired by UMFF to create your own scholarship? Here’s how we can help you.
- Get a group of amazing and generous ultra mega friends together.
- Think of a name for your scholarship. It could be someone you’d like to honour, or a group name/organisation you’d like to call yourself.
- Pledge an amount, and think of some criteria for the students you’re looking for, to transform their lives.
- Head on over to Skolaship to create your own scholarship.
- We’ll get back to you, and soon enough your scholarship will be up and open for applications!
Creating a scholarship isn’t something only governments or organisations can do. Any of us can do it too. As UMFF has showed us, all it needs is a little bit of heart.
Inspired by this story? Make sure to share it with your friends, family and fellow university students, to let them know that somewhere out there, someone cares. You can do so through Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp.