|I want my children to eat well and go to school – Melanie Encabo|
|News Features - Success Stories|
|Written by Azenath L. Formoso|
|Monday, 22 August 2011 01:50|
A mother's inherent strength is magnified through the inspiration derived from her children. Such is the unwavering strength of Melanie Encabo, 37 years old, from Barangay. Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. Melanie is mother of four children, ages 13, 11, 8 and 3.
Like many rural poor, Melanie went to Manila in search for greener pastures. It was the year 1995 and Melanie was a youthful and vibrant 21-year-old probinsyana full of high hopes for her future. She was from a poor family and decided to make a difference for her future.
"Nagtrabaho ako sa factory para makatulong sa mga magulang ko. Pangarap kong makapagtrabaho sa ibang bansa noon. Pero ilang buwan pa lang ako dito, nagka-nobyo na ako. Nagsisisi ako nung una pero masaya ako dahil sa mga anak ko,” Melanie narrated.
Camilo Encabo, her spouse, was only seventeen when they got married. They were wracked with uncertainty for their family’s future but they have committed to become good parents no matter what the future holds.
“Nangako kaming dalawa ng asawa ko na magiging mabuting magulang kami kahit mahirap lang kami. Ang mahalaga sa amin ay nakakapag-aaral sila at nakakakain ng maayos,” she said.
With the growth of her family, their expenses also grew. Melanie took on different jobs at first – doing laundry and selling barbecue and snacks. However, it was impossible to sustain a job or a small business because taking care of her young children required undivided attention. “Ang mga anak ko ang inuuna ko. Mga bata pa sila at kailangan tutok ako sa kanila,” she said.
Camilo works as a construction worker and earns 280 per working day. Melanie strategically budgets their income to suffice for the school needs of their children and food of their family. The children would normally have biscuits as their baon to school. The children lacked notebooks and have only one set of uniform each. “Sa gabi nilalabhan ko na yung mga uniporme nila para may magamit sila kinabukasan," Melanie narrated.
“Nakakaraos naman kami pero minsan na-ospital yung anak ko. Dahil daw iyon sa potassium-deficiency, sabi ng doctor - kakulangan sa gulay at pagkaing may protina. Dalawang buwan noon ang anak ko sa hospital. Kinailangan naming humingi ng tulong sa mga kapatid ko at biyenan ko,” she narrated.
When Melanie was informed last October 2010 that she was included in a government program, she was not expecting that it would be a direct help in the form of cash grant. Her household has become one of the 971 beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino in their barangay.
“Akala ko grocery pack kasi malapit na noon ang pasko. O di kaya’y feeding program kasi laging may ganon dito sa amin. Sobrang nagulat ako na cash ang ibibigay”, she gleefully said.
“Iyon ang pinakamasayang pasko namin . Naiyak ang mga bata sa tuwa kasi binilhan namin sila ng kumpleto at bagong gamit sa school. First time iyon. Kumpleto na ngayon ang kanilang uniporme,” she further said.
Melanie’s household gets 1, 400 cash grant per month which they receive on a bi-monthly basis. It was a great help for her children. She now feels secure of her children’s health and education.
“Mas nakakasiguro na ako ngayon sa edukasyon at kalusugan ng mga bata. Yung pangatlo ko hindi na madalas magkasakit kasi may bitamina na siya at regular ko silang pinapacheck-up. Marami akong natutunan sa pagiging isang responsableng magulang sa Pantawid Pamilya,” she said.
She consciously applies her learnings in the Family Development Sessions by preparing healthy meals for her children. She also takes pride that her children never gets absent unless when calamity strikes.
Melanie’s household is fully aware of the limited time-span of getting grants from the government but she feels confident that what she has learned and gained will not be diminished once they graduate from the program.
"Tinutulungan kami ng gobyerno pero tinutulungan din namin ang sarili namin. Pagkatapos ng limang taon, kung meron naman livelihood, gagamitin namin para mapagtapos yung mga anak namin. Kaya din namin tumayo sa aming mga paa. Nagsisikap pa rin kami ng asawa ko kahit pa may tulong mula sa gobyerno,” Melanie said with conviction.
Melanie’s dream to work abroad may not have come true. But she remains unflinching about her dreams and hopes for her children.
“Nagsusumikap kami at ginagamit namin nang tama ang tulong sa amin ng gobyerno. Sana mas lalo pang lumawak at lumago ang programa para marami pa ang makinabang na mahihirap,” asserted Melanie.