The woman was in her mid to late 30’s, just about my age, but her face bore the experience of a much older woman. She told her story haltingly while she told us of how she had began with the responsibility of feeding 4 children after her husband had left her. She started with a small budget and opened a small street-side “sari-sari” or “carinderia”. She had tears in her eyes as she spoke of her first Christmas with and they could only afford to buy chicken feet for your supper. Yet she managed to send all 4 kids to school through her effort, hard work and money saving ability.
Hers was only one of the many stories of the contestants for the “Search for WINNERS” of the Mandaue Chamber last August. She was not there for a handout, she was there to share her story and she was chosen by her barangay as a role model and joined the contest to be an inspiration to women everywhere.
Their stories, and all of the contestants, in their own way, inspired me and shamed me a little bit. All of them had very difficult lives. All of them are clawing through the mire of poverty in the country. Yet, all of them have the same rallying call…. Never give up, no matter how bleak it may seem. Never say there’s no way out. Never lose hope. Never lose faith in God.
It saddens me that there are so many worthy Filipinos who we should be proud of who are living in the shadows and are never given the attention they deserve. Instead, we hear and read more about the Filipinos we should be ashamed of like the stupid army general who had to be carried down his boat because he didn’t want to get his boots wet or the politicians whose bottomless greed is sucking the country dry. All we hear about in the news are the bad things about our country…
In truth, there are many little things that should make us proud.
I rejoice that we are a nation of happy people who manage to smile and play even if their homes are being battered by the storm and are forced to evacuate. Other nations would already wail and get angry at their plight yet our citizens find a reason to find joy.
I rejoice that we are a nation of people that do not resort to riots even in the midst of intense hardship and instead turn within ourselves to find strength to endure.
I rejoice that we are a nation of nameless heroes, like these women, who are finding a way to fight their own poverty without resorting to mendicancy or theft and other forms lawlessness but through pure grit.
Hearing their stories of perseverance and strength has inspired me in more ways than one. It has made me thankful for having been blessed with so many.
It also reminds me that there are so many people who are WORTHY of our help.
I believe that charity begins at home … but maybe once in a while, I should throw a little charity outside my comfort zone…