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If Only for Her Children….

September 1st, 2021

How many times must one forgive an enemy? The Good Book says seventy times seven. Haide has certainly overtaken the Holy Bible. Thirteen years and six children after she took up with the man who, she thought, would make good his promises in their youth, she decided to call it quits! She had good reasons for the decision she had made.

    Like many young girls in their teens, Haide had many friends with whom she shared her dreams.  Their plans were simple. They only wanted quiet lives and after marrying the men of their choice, they would have a few children who later would be the source of their happiness in their old age.  Then Haide met this man who, she believed, would be the one to help her fulfill her dreams.

         She thought that one day, she would be his wife and he would be loving a husband to her and a responsible father to their children. Early in their relationship, however, he showed how unfaithful he could be. Even before their first child was born, he already showed signs of infidelity.  She had reasons to be jealous because everyone was calling her attention to his flirting with other women in their neighborhood.  They had their spats even when she was still pregnant.  He was not at all moved by the fact that he would soon be a father.  When she thought things over, she concluded that he was not even responsible enough to try to earn more since their expenses would increase because there would be an addition to their family.

 As the years wore on, Haide had to accept the realities that living with this man would bring. She had to work so their children could eat and go to school.  Thankfully, she actually did not have to look far for her to be employed.  Her father was a motorcycle mechanic and her mother was a weaver in a puso factory in their town. puso is a Tagalog term for "heart."  The Visayans have their "puso" which is actually a coconut midrib woven and shaped like a heart.  Rice is poured into the packet and boiled.  This is a convenient way of cooking and eating rice. "Puso" is a staple among roadside eateries.  Prices vary according to the brand of rice cooked in it. She joined her mother in the "puso" factory but even if she worked hard and long every day, her earnings were not enough.

         It is not an exaggeration to say that Haide brought her children up single-handedly. Life was very difficult for her. She would leave the house at 6:00 in the morning when most of the children were still asleep. She would get home at 9:00 in the evening when most of them were already asleep.  She had no time to look after them and she left this task to her older children.  It is no wonder that very often, the children would get sick.  They were undernourished as they did not have food, the right kind of food. In fact, the children themselves would report to her that they were hungry because the money she left was not enough. That was one of the many things that bothered Haide.

         It was a good thing that the factory owners allowed their workers to make cash advances on their wages.  Haide got so used to making cash advances that often, her week's earnings were enough only to cover the advances that she had made.

         Her partner was of no use to her and the family.   He did not do housework even as he did not give money to support them.  Even with him in the house, Haide had to do everything that had to be done.  He had to be served.  His clothes had to be laundered and his food had to be prepared for him.   Simply put, he was a burden to the family.

       Of course, her parents could help.  The old people, however, were not in the habit of just handing their daughter with support.  They helped when Haide asked for assistance.  Otherwise, they just did not support her, even if they could see her difficult situation.

         What made life more difficult for Haide was that the children came one after another.  While their family was getting bigger, her husband also became more and more irresponsible.  His philandering became more uncontrollable, so much that she had to seek help from the authorities. Many times, she sought help from the community because he was very irresponsible and demanding.  All that the community counsellors could do was advise them after which they had to sign a document that he would do better as a husband and father. This happened so many times that they lost their credibility in the community.  In fact, they had become the butt of jokes among the male officials who could not help but tease her, referring to the number of times that they had been in this situation and the children that they were having.

         Their children who were supposed to be in school did not go anymore because they could not be always present due to their inability to comply with their school needs.  Some of them did not go to school because they were hungry.

         The burden for Haide was so heavy that she just decided to pack up and leave their shanty one day. After all, he was again with one of his women.  She went to her parents'  house, informing them that she and her children would stay there for good.

         Haide was prepared to go on with her life as it was, wishing that all her children will one day want to go to school again.  One of her older children, Ken, happened to be a member of the Voice Project of Bidlisiw because a friend invited him.  During a conversation with one of the staff, he talked about how he pitied his mother. That spelled the difference in Haide's life.  The social worker made a thorough study of Haide's situation and in no time, Haide was on her way to a turn-around in her life.

         Together, Haide and the staff studied possibilities that were open to her, and soon she was being prepared for a job that would allow her to spend quality time with her children.

         In the past, Haide was always in a hurry to and from work, while worrying about her family and her lack of means to support them. Now, she is employed as a utility person in a fast food outlet, where she is paid with the minimum wage.  She now has time with her children whom she had missed during her difficult days with her partner and her job at the factory.  She has changed greatly because she has space to enjoy her own life. She is spoken to by the staff with whom she enjoys exchanging jokes with. In fact, she says that she feels that she has learned to laugh again, something she had not done for a very long time.

         Haide has every reason to be happy now.  She spends regular hours at her workplace.  She hurries all the time because she does not want to be late.  She does her work with a light heart.  She says that she cannot be grateful enough for the changes that have come to her life.  That is why she does her work well.  

         She moves around like she has come to the realisation of what she had hoped for in the past.  Now, she busies herself with her children when she gets home. Not all her children want to go back to school yet.  She says she'll convince them slowly.  As of now, she only has gratitude in her heart.  For what has been given her from on high through the Bidlisiw Foundation, a Terre des Hommes Netherlands partner through the Girls Advocacy Programme.

         She also has forgiven herself for the indiscretions that she had committed. She is now happy looking into the future with her children. 

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