Today we turn the spotlight on Ester Vargas, Uplifters’ first-team leader from Dubai.  She grew up in Tondo, Manila but settled down in Lapulapu City, Cebu. She has ten years of work experience in accounting and previously worked for SHARP Philippines Corporation. She describes herself as a business-minded person and a proud mother to four children.

“My small restaurant business was bankrupt and I couldn’t bear the pain of losing it. I was buried in debt and the savings intended for my children’s education were all used up. Though I never wanted to leave them, I needed to find a way to start anew and recover the losses. My sister invited me to come to Dubai for a visit and check it out.

I was scrolling through Facebook one time and saw Uplifters ads. I had just finished a caregiving and culinary course. I really love to learn but since the pandemic started, the schools have been closed. I am supposed to take the IELTS review since I am planning to move to Canada. So with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I thought that joining Uplifters would keep me busy. While waiting for the September opening of “Dare to Dream”, I also became active in the Facebook group Horizons: Home for Talented Workers in Hong Kong founded by team leader Ody Munson. I wrote poems and short stories, a talent that I only discovered during the pandemic. I find it to be the perfect platform to release my anxieties. I feel better each time I write my thoughts and feelings.

Uplifters taught me how to make blueprints on my dream boards. The budget plan is the tool that I needed to make my dreams a reality. The best thing I learned from Uplifters was to save ahead monthly for a specific number of years so that I will hit my target. While I’m in the middle of the Dare to Dream course, I learned about investing in life insurance and mutual funds. It was eye-opening to realize how important it would be to protect my family in case something happened to me at work. Thanks to what I’ve learned, I now have life insurance for my family. My children will receive a certain amount of money that they can use to continue their education even in my potential absence.

Before Uplifters, I was a carefree individual and used to buy things that I didn’t need. After Uplifters, I became a responsible and wise spender and learned how to be content with what I have. The clothes I wear, the food I eat and my activities, I tried to make them simple and within my budget and I began to invest my hard-earned money in mutual funds and insurance. I no longer do impulsive shopping and overspending anymore and I leave my ATM card in my room when I go out.

I feel more fulfilled now because though I have a change in my career, I can still do the thing that I love most. It’s always my passion to help people. I’m active in the missionary programs of our church in the Philippines, such as sharing the gospel to those who are in unreachable places like in the mountains without roads.

Being a team leader at Uplifters, I can still help even while I am inside the solitude of my room. The most fulfilling thing that I like about being a team leader is that I can support them and listen to their stories. I always get emotional when they open up about their hardships and their personal family problems. I need to be strong and give them wise suggestions, but deep inside I feel like bursting into tears. I also like that I can teach them how to manage their finances the right way so when they go home for good, they won’t go back empty-handed. I enjoy being silly with the students and laughing with them to help relieve stress. I’m now more active in the Filipino community here in Dubai. I’m the community coordinator in my area, in charge of facilitating the relief goods for distressed workers. I would like to share my motto to everyone, “Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it to happen and take steps to make it happen.”