DARAGA, Albay—Aira Gabiazo dreamt of being a chef. Mary Jacob wants to be a nurse. Lester Martirez wished to be a professional basketball player and Kim Cabuyao is planning to have a business of his own.

But they all have one dilemma—how to realize their dream because their families could not afford to send them to school.

If some of the youths in barangay Maroroy and Anislag are poor, how can they reach for their dreams and become the hope of the nation?

The Philippine National Police-5 through the Police Community Relations Division crafted a special program for these youths so that they can reach their dreams through the help of the government.

The Youth Opportunity Expo (YOE) Program is for the out-of-school youth (OSY) and other unemployed persons in the barangays. This is a convergence initiative of all government agencies including the regional offices of the Departments of Agriculture-Bicol (DA), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).

The YOE program was pilot-tested in the barangays of Maroroy and Anislag held recently and was participated in by more than 25 OSYs. During the pilot-testing, the youths also became aware of the different programs and interventions that they can avail from the participating government agencies.

Speaking in his native dialect, Cabuyao said he just realized that the government offers a lot of support and interventions for OSYs like him.

DA-Bicol presented the different programs on Rice, Corn and Cassava, High Value Crops, Livestock and Poultry, and Organic Agriculture, and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Scholarship. The participants received assorted IEC materials and vegetable seeds.

After the evaluation of the pilot-testing, the YOE program will be fully-implemented in more than 200 barangays in the province of Albay.

Aside from YOE, the government agencies will be invited to participate in the Kapehan sa Munisipyo to discuss their different programs to the barangay officials once every three months.

Assisting the PNP in the program is the Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) which is an international non-government organization. (jaysonmgonzales)