Ally Benitez – Eradicating Poverty Through Literacy

SFPC: Where are you from? Tell us about the town in which you grew up.

ALLY: I’m from Makati, which is a part of metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. We were lucky to grow up near family. We lived very close to our grandparents. Our grandmother, or Lola, would often make us weekly dinners. My siblings and I have very fond memories of that.

SFPC: You have two siblings, Alfonso and Andie. Do you usually get along with them? How often do you, “fight?”

ALLY: I think anyone might be lying if they said they got along with their siblings 100% of the time. I’m not doubting peoples’ ability to that, but it takes a lot of patience (laughing). My siblings and I jive pretty well most of the time. There are the minor fights over trivial stuff – “Oh you took my shirt. Why did you use that without my permission?” It’s just part of life. But we love each other. Every time we fight we always find ways to get back together. We definitely have to apologize, but usually we get over it really quickly. Five seconds later we’re just like, “Hey what’s up?”

SFPC: What’s your favorite book and why?

ALLY: Ah man, I have so many favorite books. But I think I’d say the first Harry Potter. When I was eight, I picked that book up and I think that’s a reason why I really started getting into reading. It just pulled me in. That’s also what comes to mind when I think about how books can change lives. I think the knowledge I gained from all the subsequent books started from that one.

SFPC: What sports do you play?

ALLY: I play fencing. I did many other sports when I was younger but I stuck with fencing over the years. My brother usually trains with me and I will admit that he sticks it to me sometimes.

SFPC: What’s been the best part about starting the Librery Organization?

ALLY: Probably the feeling that you get from helping. “Libre” means “free” in Filipino, so we want to provide children with free, easy access to books. Whenever we go back and we get to see the kids using the library and getting to read the books and how much they enjoy them... that’s the best.

SFPC: A few weeks ago, you experienced Pandoo Nation’s Rescue Camp game during the #GametoGive competition at the Global Issues Network Conference. What was your favorite part about that?

ALLY: I think the best part was that the game is a very accessible way to be able to help. I remember when I was younger, before Librery, my siblings and I wanted to do something to make a difference, but struggled to develop a solid idea. With Pandoo, kids all around the world can login and help. I think it’s a really great concept.

SFPC: Who is your favorite Pandoo Nation character?

ALLY: I’d say the male Ox. He looks sagely and wise, and I bet he gives great advice.