Rolly Story: Losing a father

World Vision sponsored child Rolly, 10, and his mother, Melody, have a special bond. Rolly is not one to warm up easily to other people, but, having his mother within his reach, puts him at ease. He smiles — shyly at first. As soon as her mother cracks a joke, he shows more of himself – energetic, playful.

“We got closer when his father died a year ago,” starts Melody.

The death of her husband shocked the whole family. She wasn’t prepared to lose the father of her three children, the family’s provider, her partner in life.

“He was bitten by a dog. I kept telling him to get vaccinated but he worried about the expenses. He said he’d rather use the money for foods or the needs of our children. He was supposed to get three shots at P600 each,” says Melody. He only got two. Days after his supposed third and final shot, his health deteriorated and he succumbed to death.

 

Coping with loss amid COVID-19

The death of her husband meant Melody is now the sole provider of the family. Rolly, being the eldest child, knows his mother’s situation. Whenever his mother is out to work as house helper or to do laundry for other families, Rolly would help with the house chores.

“I help clean the house. I wash the dishes and helps my grandmother look after my two other siblings. In the afternoon, I work on my modules,” he says. Since the pandemic, schools in Balo-I, Lanao del Norte switched to modular learning.

Melody wakes up at dawn to cook breakfast for the children. At 6, she leaves the house to work. She tries to go back home at 11 to cook for lunch and look after her younger kids. At around 2 in the afternoon, Melody and Rolly would fetch water together. Water is scarce in the area. They have one water source in the community, but, water comes only in the afternoon. Without much rest, Melody would then look for firewood that they can use for cooking. In the evening, she tries her best to help her children with their school requirements.

“It’s tiring. It’s difficult juggling work and looking after my children, but I will shoulder on,” she says. “I just wish the pandemic will be over soon. I feel for Rolly whenever he’s struggling in his module. There is nothing much I can teach him because I only finished Grade 3. If he has his teachers around, I am more at peace knowing that he’s learning well.”

“I find Math really difficult, especially multiplication,” Rolly shares.

 

Never giving up

There are days when Melody thinks about her husband. She’d cry, missing the days when everything was easier with her husband around, and when he was there to talk to Rolly about random things.

“I miss him. I remember waiting for him to come home from work every night,” Rolly said, triggering Melody’s tears.

I still find it hard to navigate this, she said. But she’s not giving up. She has dreams for her children. She’s found people who have become her and her children’s support system.

One of those is Nicris, a World Vision child monitor in the community who regularly checks on Rolly. She’s asked her daughter, a teacher, to find time to tutor him.

Rolly became part of World Vision’ sponsorship program in 2020, shortly after his father died. When the pandemic hit, their family received food and cash support from World Vision’s COVID-19 response. Rolly also received school supplies, along with other children in their community. His school, meanwhile, received printers, ink and bond papers to support their transition to distant learning.

When her husband died, Melody was most afraid of not being able to support her children’s education. With Rolly’s sponsorship and the support of people around her, she’s become more hopeful.

“I will become a soldier one day. I will help Mama because I love her,” Rolly said, not fully aware of how his words continue to strengthen and inspire his mother to keep moving forward, against all odds.