KALAHISerye 2016|| 27 As farmers, Juna’s family wait for three months before they could sell their crop and have their cash. Usually, they plant string beans which have a maturity period of three months. Within those months “we have to live day by day without giving our children regular “baon” (allowance)” Juna said. Because of this financial struggle, Juna decided to avail of TESDA’s skills training. However, she doesn’t have a high school diploma to qualify her for the training. This didn’t dampen her spirit to acquire some skills at least so she enrolled in the Alternative Learning System of Dep-Ed. “I graduated in 2005 when I had three kids already,” she said with pride. She finally earned that precious document certifying that she is a high school graduate. She continued to persevere while juggling her roles between her family and her studies until she finally succeeded. Eventually, she added another set of skills by finishing her Beauty Care Training with TESDA. As we continued to share stories, my admiration for her resiliency started to build within me and made me wonder where mothers get all those kind of strength. The first time I saw her was when she shared a little bit of her story during a visit of former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman. That time she stood with pride at a stage in Kapangan. She seemed nervous but confident as she delivered her speech. I was guessing that most of us who were listening to her didn’t know that three years ago she had a low self-esteem and she who would never step on a stage to speak in front of a crowd. But that day, she was a community volunteer, a DSWD beneficiary who was able to hold the audience including the secretary and municipal officials with her speech. She made an impression on the audience including me so I pursued an interview with her. After earning a national certificate, she said she was happy having learned skills in beauty care thus she began building her dreams of profiting from it. But then the happiness and the plans she started to build began crumbling as she was again faced with financial challenge to start a business. “I didn’t have a capital to start with and I lacked marketing skills,” she said. In 2012, she became a DSWD beneficiary where she learned family rearing through the family development sessions. “My family’s relationship slowly improved so now my husband and I can better manage our family now,” she shared. She was also granted a PhP 10, 000 capital from Sustainable Livelihood Program of the department to start her beauty care services. “Although it wasn’t enough, I was able to start a home service beauty care business in my municipality and later to nearby municipalities. Slowly, she started to feel that she is part of her community so she got herself involved in some activities of her barangay. She then joined as a community volunteer for the Kalahi-CIDSS in 2013 and until now remains as one. “Before, I have very low self-esteem but now I came to find my self-worth and became an active member of my community,” she said. At present, she is also being invited as resource speakers during Family Development Sessions with other families in her municipality. “She is very active in community activities as member or leader of committees created,” Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator Fidela Gawidan confirmed.
During her home services to her clients, she takes time to tell and invite them to participate on the activities for community projects. “While being a volunteer, I heard about a cooking training from other villagers during a barangay assembly and I readily joined, she continued. With her newly acquired skills, she can now prepare and packaged candies, mallows, pulvoron and other processed food which she sells around her municipality while on her way to her beauty care clients. With these livelihood, “Now, I can provide at least for our kitchen and enough allowance to my children,” she said with a shy smile. Juna is just one of many Filipinos who lacked opportunities but after being provided with one, it has created a ripple effect to her family and to her community. From being a timid and typical housewife, Juna proved that with pure effort anyone can turn into a versatile and resilient person ready to change her life and develop her community. Her story may not be the typical rags to riches but she represents those people who are just waiting for the right support before they can unfold their potential. KALAHISerye 2016|| 28
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