Written by Laksmi Cahyady
Find out what pushes Leartess, a student from Batch 6, on her journey to be a Call Centre Agent.
Leartess Ulbe, 36 years old, is a mother of five.
Her family of nine – with her mother and sister – live in a humble Nipa house in Bago City.
Leartess enjoys spending time with her family at home and cooking her children’s favourite dishes.
Before Leartess joined BagoSphere training, she had spent over 10 years of her life selling vegetables in the local market with her family. Life was good then as the business was thriving and revenue was sufficient to provide for her family’s daily needs and her children’s education. Her life took a downward turn when the market was renovated and new regulations on stall allocation were introduced. Leartess was among one of the many shop owners that were cut off. She lost her stall, she lost her job, she lost her only source of income.
“My children asked me for 1 Peso and I didn’t have it”
Jobless, Leartess stayed at home to take care of the family and she had to rely on her husband – the sole breadwinner – to provide for the family. Her husband drives a tricycle, a local means of transportation, and earns a meager Php 2800 (US$ 62). This amount was barely enough to provide for the family of nine. Money was so low, Leartess recalled an occasion when her daughter asked her for one Peso to buy sweets in a nearby sari-sari store* and she could not afford to give her as her pocket was empty.
*a local term for a convenience store
“I am 36 and I have never touched a computer before”
Charry, a BagoSphere trainer and Leartess’s neighbor, encouraged Leartess to join BagoSphere’s training program. Leartess was in a dilemma – she really wanted to help her husband financially and give her children better lives, but she had zero background in I.T. She had not touched a computer or a headset, something essential for a call centre agent; she had not heard about Google in her 36 years of life. Given her age (she’s the oldest student among her batch), picking up this new skill was impossible, Leartess thought.
Despite her fear, Leartess was touched by her family’s encouragement and support. Her mother and sister promised to take care of her children, her husband promised to provide her an allowance, her four children promised to help out with house chores, as well as with her homework. So she took a leap of faith and registered at BagoSphere. Within the span of a week, she passed 3 rounds of interviews and was successfully enrolled.
“I am a much more confident person”
Now in her final week of training, Leartess is hopeful. She now types at a speed of 30 words per minute (wpm), an impressive improvement from 15 wpm in the first week of training. She now uses the computer with ease, using the Internet to search for her daughter’s favourite song, and enjoys watching videos on Youtube. Leartess could also converse in English fluently with her 4 children at home or with the foreigners she meets in the market.
Upon graduation, Leartess hopes to get a job at Panasiatic or Teleperformance, two call centres located in Bacolod. She hopes that through this job, she would be able to ease her husband’s burden of being the sole breadwinner and to provide better education for her children. She also hopes that with her success, her husband would be motivated to enroll in BagoSphere, too.
Laksmi Cahyady has a passion in Social Innovation Projects and has participated in many Overseas Community Involvement Programmes around South East Asia. A current third year student of Diploma in Business and Social Enterprise in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, Laksmi is interested to explore further in the social entrepreneurship field. She feels strongly for the cause of global poverty and believe that children and youths are the catalyst of change in the society.