The tale of two grandmothers
By Mong Jimenez, World Vision Communications Specialist
It is a common belief that a grandmother’s love for her grandchildren is exceptional… so much that one would gain weight after a visit to lola’s house. In the Philippines, it is still usual for a Filipino family to stay in the grandparents’ home especially when the parents could not yet afford to have their own. Some grandparents also serve as guardians to their grandchildren when the parents are gone or working afar.
In Antique, two grandmothers share the same story, both taking care of their grandchildren. The only line that separates them is the economic situation of their families.
Josephine is a loving grandmother to her only grandchild, Faith. While Faith’s parents are away for work, Josephine cooks for her, sends her to school and helps her with her assignments. She is tending a small retail store so she could also help provide for her granddaughter’s needs.
But life was different back then. She, with her husband and 6 children, used to live in the mountainous part of their village. Settling in a small abode with only farming as their source of income, life was really tough for them.
“Seeing my children cramped in a house made of bamboo and wood pained me. I dreamed of a proper home for them,” the 57-year-old grandmother tried to remember. “Some days, we survived with only two meals a day.”
It was in the early 2000s that the family was able to buy a small land in the town proper. From the bare lot, they built their house with the little savings they have.
Her three older children were not able to finish school but they managed to land jobs. The eldest was already working overseas.
In 2009, Josephine joined a community savings group that was introduced by World Vision to strengthen economic resiliency of families. At first, she was hesitant. But seeing her neighbors gradually improving their homes convinced her to sign up.
She learned how to save a part of what she and husband’s income, and from her savings along with the help of the other savers, she borrowed money for her family’s needs.
After being a member of savings group, she was able to get construction materials to extend their house. She improved their roof and windows and upgraded their floor of bare soil to cement. Her savings also helped her children’s school expenses. And she was able to put up a retail store for additional income.
Now, her children are all grown up and busy with their own careers. She is now living in a home that surpassed her previous expectations.
“I spend my days tending my store and taking care of my granddaughter,” shares Josephine. “I am pouring all my attention to her, which I wasn’t able to do to my children before because of work.”
Dolores accepts laundry works from neighbours to support her grandchild Jane, 10 years old, and Jane’s older sister. The father of the two granddaughters works as a farm laborer. The work is seasonal and the pay is below the minimum wage.
Despite her age, Dolores still needs to earn for her grandchildren. She wants them to finish their education.
“I want the best for my apos (grandchildren). Education is the only gift I can give them that is why I’m still working,” says the grandmother. “I want them to be successful in the future and not to stay like this always.”
Aside from doing laundry works, which she earns Php100 to Php200 per task, she also goes with a church group that provide prayer services during wakes and burials. Their fee relies on the generosity of the bereaved family.
Now, the family is seeing a new hope. Jane was chosen as a sponsored child of World Vision. She has received school supplies while her grandmother was introduced to the community savings group, the same program that Josephine joined. She started to save and borrow money during urgent needs.
Strengthening family and community ties
The Philippines is a country where family ties are the strongest. The stories of Josephine and Dolores are relatively similar because of the love for their family that binds them together.
As a child-focused organization, World Vision believes in this relationship ties among Filipino communities and families. It provides capacity to individuals so they can better take care of their families – just like the two grandmothers.
You can support World Vision’s work for children by sponsoring a child or sharing our advocacies to more people. For more details, visit www.worldvision.org.ph.
World Vision/May 16, 2018
World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.