An inspiration like no other

 In an age when Nita Beato and her husband are supposed to be enjoying the calming days of their retirement, the couple made a promise to spend the last of their energies to raise their granddaughter and secure her a better future. 

 

When Marielle Ann Beato (PHSR0163FCZ) was three years old, her parents parted ways and started their new respective families, leaving Marielle and her sister under the care of her grandparents and aunts.

 

 

"Nung maliit pa lang siya, nasa akin na siya, hanggang sa nag-aaral na siya, sa akin pa din siya. Talagang sinisikap naming itaguyod ang kanyang pag-aaral, katulong ang IN. Nita recounts. (I took care of her ever since she was little, until now that she’s studying. My husband and I are really working hard for her studies and we are glad that we are part of IN.

 

"Napakalaking bagay ng IN para sa amin katulad ngayon, mahirap ang buhay," she adds, recalling how happy they were in learning that Marielle will be part of INCAP. (IN has always been a big part of our lives.)

 

For fourteen years, her grandmother, Nita Beato, has served as both a mother and a father figure to Marielle. The couple are already senior citizens but because they have a granddaughter to dote on, Nita works as a municipal street sweeper while her husband works as a construction worker. 

 

Nita has to endure the heat under the blazing sun as she tirelessly cleans the street for a minimum wage as a government employee. Her husband is already experiencing the effects of having to work in a strenuous job at an old age. But the two plowed on, driven by love and responsibility, to keep Marielle in school. She is now in 4th year high school and by next year, she has a good shot of going to college.

 

 

Equally determined to repay them for their sacrifice, Marielle wants to pursue a degree in Tourism and be the one who will support her grandparents at their twilight years. The whole family is grateful for the assistance and benefits they receive from INCAP ever since Mariel became involved in the program at 1st grade.

 

"Kung iisipin mo na meron kang pinag-aaral, kahit anuman ang nararamdaman mo, hindi ka titigil sa pagtatrabaho. Yun ang nagsisilbing inspirasyon." Nita explains. (When a loved one is depending on you, you will overcome everything – the pains in your body, your old age. Fulfilling her needs is your inspiration)

 

And for Nita, a future where Marielle can enjoy life filled with wonderful opportunities, is an inspiration like no other. 

A Survivor Like Jocelyn

A Story of Recovery

More than one hundred days after Yolanda, the memories of ferocious winds, falling debris, dilapidated houses and devastation everywhere are still fresh in Jocelyn Barcoma’s mind. The 16-year-old girl, who was born and raised in Leyte all her life, admitted she still kept having nightmares about the devastation.

“Palagi po ako nananaginip yung mga nangyari sa amin. Kahit konti po ang ulan, natatakot pa din ako,” she candidly shares. (I've had nightmares about what happened. I still do. When it rains a little, I easily become paranoid)

Jocelyn’s story is not uncommon to hundreds of Yolanda survivors who are still struggling to restore their lives back to normalcy days after the supertyphoon slashed Leyte, Samar and other neighbouring islands, killing more than 6,000 people in the process and destroying billions of dollars worth of property. The ordeal is far from over, but Jocelyn, with the heart of a survivor, begins to look forward to the future, knowing that God is with her and her family on their long journey back to recovery.

Aspires to Inspire

As the 5th child in a family of six living in a small town at Carigara, Leyte, Jocelyn is no stranger to hardship and financial difficulties while growing up. Her mom makes a living out of washing other peoples’ clothes, having no permanent income to support the family. Jocelyn barely remembers her father. He abandoned them when she was only 4 years old, and they rarely heard from him ever since.

"Kung hindi ko po nakilala ang mga taga-International Needs, mahihirapan po yung nanay kong magpa-aral sa akin at baka po hindi na ako makapag-aral kasi walang pera yung nanay ko at tsaka iniwan na po namin ng tatay ko,” (If it weren’t for IN, my mother wouldn’t know what to do just to send me school. There’s a chance that I might drop out because we don’t have any money and my father had abandoned us a long time ago)

With the help of IN, Jocelyn manages to continue her education through highschool. She is now a 3rd year student in the School of Fisheries, an active member of the church and a daughter whom her mother dotes on. She is one of the remaining two Barcoma children who still have the chance to finish their highschool education.

Jocelyn gleefully recalls that being a Batang Pag-asa (Child of Hope) helped her envision her future and career goals. Because of pastor lectures and church activities, she now dreams herself to be a teacher who can inspire her students in the future, just as IN and her ates and kuyas at church inspired her.

“Malaki ang tulong ng pananampalataya ko sa Panginoon. Pag nag-pray po ako na. Pag may hinihingi ako sa kanya, ibinibigay niya.” Right now, her only prayer is that she would graduate with good grades and achieve the dreams she had for herself and her family. (My faith to the Lord helped me a lot. He listens to my prayers and gives whatever I ask for at a right time) 

Things are looking well for young Jocelyn and her family when Yolanda struck on November 08, 2013. Jocelyn has no idea that the typhoon’s ferocity will not only test her character, but also her faith.

 

Surviving Yolanda

Jocelyn recalls that the night before Yolanda is a typical, calm one. That’s why when she tuned in to the TV before going to bed, she had been surprised that Leyte was placed under Signal #5, something that hasn’t happened for a long time in Eastern Visayas’ typhoon history. She prayed hard that somehow along the way, the storm would lose some of its power when it arrives at Leyte.

The next day, the storm unleashes its deadly fury.

“Yung mga kasama ko umiiyak na sila kasi lumalakas na ang ulan at nung mag-aalas syete, dun na po talaga lumakas yung ulan at nakikita ko po yung mga puno, nagsisitumba,” her voice catches upon recalling the past events, but she persisted on. “Na-trauma po talaga ako. Yung pader po sa likod ng bahay namin, hindi ko po akalain na matutumba.” (All the people around me were crying. It’s around 7 AM when the winds and the rains grew more powerful. I’ve witnessed trees being uprooted from the ground. Even the concrete wall behind our house, we didn’t expect it to be destroyed like that)

At one point while telling her story, Jocelyn breaks off in a typical Pinoy humour by making light of an otherwise grim situation. While bracing themselves during the storm, her mother, an ardent Catholic, repeatedly urges her to read aloud Catholic reading materials, an action she vehemently refuses to do so because of her newfound faith. She finds it amusing that despite the chaos around them, she and her mother were still having a heated argument on which religion is right.

“Sabi ko, 'Nay, nay ayokong magbasa niyan' Alam ko po kasing pray lang yung kailangan ko, kaso pinipilit po ako ng nanay ko mag-pray kasi yung nanay ko hindi marunong magbasa.” (I told my mother, ‘No, I I don’t have to read that. I know prayer is the only thing I need, but my mother insists because she can’t read for herself)

Amid the destruction, Jocelyn still hadn’t lost her sense to pray and look for something that will help them escape from their house and the falling debris. “Nag-pray po ako sa Panginoon, 'Sige po, Lord kung ito po yung ano ninyo sa amin, alam namin na may purpose po kayo sa amin. Proteksyunan ninyo po yung mga nandito. “ she said, “Naisip ko, gamitin na lang ang plywood ang ipangtatabang sa mga ulo natin habang tumatakabo.” (I prayed to Him, ‘Lord, if this is your will, let it be. I know you have a purpose for this. Just protect all of us from harm. Then I spotted a bunch of plywood and thought we can carry these on top of our heads while we flee from the house)

 Jocelyn with her friends during the Typhoon Haiyan psychosocial activities

 Jocelyn (far left) enjoying time with friends during the psychosocial activities

Giving thanks to Him and to the people He used

For Jocelyn and her family, surviving the aftermath of the storm has proven to be more difficult than surviving through it. Now that their house is no more and they’ve lost most of their possessions, starting everything again from the scratch is no less than a herculean challenge for her and other victims.

That’s why when the IN team and her sponsor arrived six days after Yolanda, she was thankful beyond words.

“Sila po kasi yung nauna magbigay ng relief goods, tapos nakakakain na po kami,” she explains. “Mahalaga po sa akin yun lalo na po yung pagpapagawa ng bahay namin, tsaka po yung mga activities lalo na yung psycho-social activity” she shares. “Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Panginoon na may ginamit po siyang mga tao, yun nga po ang mga IN.” (They were the first one to give help. It was very important to all of us, especially for me because we were able to fix our house back thanks to their help. The activities also helped a lot, especially the psycho-social activity. I’m very grateful for the Lord that He used people like IN to help us in need.) 

During the IN visit, what particularly struck Jocelyn is the spirit of hope that seemed to imbibe her when she and the team were distributing relief goods for the other victims. 

“Sinasabi nila sa akin, ‘Uy maraming salamat sa tulong ninyo' tapos sinasabi ko po 'Wag po kayong magpasalamat sa akin. Magpasalamat po kayo sa Panginoon dahil po ginamit ng Panginoon ang IN na tumulong sa mga tao'” (They were telling me, ‘Thank you for your help’ and I only say to them, ‘Don’t thank me. Thank God because He used people like those in IN to help us)

More than the relief operations and the avenue which IN granted to her to help other people, Jocelyn is also thankful for the inspiration the team has instilled to her. Being a Batang Pag-asa, she hopes she would also inspire the kids of her generation when the time comes.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga sponsors and donors. Binigyan ninyo po ng mga materials. Kung hindi po sa inyo, hindi po mapapagawa yung bahay namin. Tsaka po yung for relief. Salamat po sa lahat. Salamat po sa mga prayers ninyo,” she ends. (I thank the sponsors and the donors for giving us the materials. If it weren’t for you, we won’t be able to reconstruct our house. And also, for the relief. Thank you for your prayers.)

As what Jocelyn’s story taught us, Yolanda is not just about pain and loss. Above all else, it is also filled with stories of hope, compassion, unity and survival; a mosaic of stories told through those who are left behind to tell the tale. Jocelyn’s story is a story among many, but hers is filled with calm optimism, an unwavering spirit, and the drive to be an inspiration for others as she knows God wants her to be. And that in itself, is an inspiration at best.

How the Magdalena Library became a center for Alternative Learning System of the community

 

The Mini-Library or Service Center in Magdalena is now a classroom that is used by community-based program called ALS or Alternative Learning System since June 2014.

ALS is a non-formal education program in the Philippines for drop-outs in elementary and secondary schools.  Shierly, the mother of Lindsay Lee Dela Torre (PHMG0033FCZ), was enrolled in this program. According to her, she did not finish her high school education because she got pregnant at a very early age which resulted to early marriage. She is thankful for this opportunity given to her to go back to school again through ALS.

She said, “My age and my civil status will not be a hindrance to pursue my dream to finish high school education. I want to take up a vocational technology course after I receive my diploma.”

Mrs. Sheryl  Sierra, Mrs. Rosalie Diokno, and Mrs. Grace Abustan are the  teachers of  ALS program in Magdalena, Laguna. The three teachers are very grateful because International Needs has put up a mini-library in the community. One of them said, “The place is very conducive to learning and the text books are very useful in teaching   Science, Math, English and Filipino subjects.”

Dignity After Disaster

In dealing with disasters, international bodies have formulated and launched a project called SPHERE handbook for global conformity of standards and procedures before, during and after a major calamity. One of its major philosophies is to promote the rights of those affected to a life with dignity.

 

In a study formulated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a livelihood following a major disaster is only proven sustainable if it enables the people to cope with and recover from shocks and stresses the disaster brought. It should primarily enhance their well-being and ensure them of their financial security without undermining the natural environment. [1]

 

With the loss of livelihood and slow yet gradual recovery of the economy in Tacloban and neighbouring provinces, livelihood assistance must be given priority in 2nd class municipalities such as Carigara, Leyte. In line with this, International Needs Philippines, along with local partners, launched the distribution of pedicabs, habal-habal and a grocery outlet for both INCAP and non-INCAP families.

 

People in Leyte basically rely on pedicabs and habal-habals for their daily mode of transportation, the pedicab within the vicinities of one small town and the habal-habal for travelling to nearby towns. 

 

Ten beneficiaries will receive ten pedicabs while another batch of ten will receive habal-habal, a popular mode of transportation in the countryside where the motorcycle is inserted with steel extension to accommodate more people

A grocery outlet called IN Store will also be opened in the new IN office at Carigara, Leyte. It will be managed by local volunteers from the office or interested INCAP housewives.

 

 

Before the launching, beneficiaries are rigorously screened and interviewed by the Area Supervisors to assess their economic background, capacity to earn income for their families, and willingness to commit to the program and goals of INPH.

At the launching last August 15, 2014, Executive Director Julio Concepcion talked about the importance of being self-reliant, even in the aftermath of a destructive calamity. Mrs. Aida Paner from the Municipal Social Welfare Development – Carigara also dropped in to talk about the role of both the NGO and local government on “helping the people to help themselves”.  

 

Dominador Rotairo, a butcher and father of 5 children and one of the recipients of Habal-Habal still can’t believe that he will be one of the first batch of beneficiaries of INPH. With his five children in school, Dominador can also utilize the motorcycle to drop them or pick them off after their classes.

 

In addition to the benefits received, recipients will also be subjected to various values-formation seminars every week. Fathers and heads of the family will also get a chance to learn more about the program and its desire to empower people guided by Biblical teachings.

 

 

It has almost been a year since Typhoon Haiyan devastated Leyte and other Visayan provinces. Now, more than ever, the effort to provide a sustainable living should be prioritized by both the government and organizations. For it is when giving a livelihood, you are giving a life. A life of dignity, that is. 

 

 

 

 

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

- 2 Corinthians 12:9



[1] What is a livelihood? International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Retrieved 29/08/2014

One School Bag at a time

Monday morning, 11-year-old Norwell Jake slipped into his oversized white sando and green shorts, his clothes barely able to fit his skinny figure. Today, he and his mother will drop by the INPH service center of Magdalena, Laguna to pick up another set of school benefits he is going to receive as an INCAP sponsored child. 

 

 

Despite the fact that he has been receiving gifts for the past five years, Norwell can’t help but to feel excited over the school supplies, bag and shoes he is going to get. Magdalena is a remote and rustic community situated at the rolling countryside and a ride to the marketplace takes a heavy toll for his mother who is 5 months pregnant. She does not have to travel far to get his supplies ready for the school year.

 

 

Norwell’s small frame and humble form inadvertently masks his great dedication on his studies. From Grade 1, he is consistently on the Top 10 of the class. He also participates in Math competitions by representing his school and his district. The pride and joy of his family, he aspires to be a pilot someday.

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