Feature: 4Ps gives hope to mothers

Gemaceta is a mother ofand a resident of Barangay Geotina, Basilisa, Dinagat Islands. Her husband, Juan Rustia Sr. is a fisherman who earns an income not adequate for a family of nine.

"Sa iyang kita sa pagpanagat ra gyud mi ga depende, wala pud koy trabaho busa dili gyud igo nga makapaeskwela mi sa mga bata hangtud sa kolehiyo kung sa kita ra sa pagpanagat ang saligan, (we used to depend solely on my husband's income as a fisherman. But since I don't have a job, we can't send all our children to college)," remarked Gemaceta.

Among her seven children, three left for the city to find work and eventually continue their studies. For Gemaceta, it was a painful decision to allow her children to leave home and venture the city, but their abject poverty left her without a choice. "Tungod sa among ka pobrehon, akong giantos ang kasakit nga malayo kanako ang akong mga anak kay aron lang sila maka eskwela (because we are poor, I bear the pain of being away from my children, so they can find opportunity to go back to school)," said Gemaceta. She only hoped that they would find their luck wherever they are.

Among Gemaceta's three children who decided to find work away from home, two are currently residing in Manila and one is in Nueva Vizcaya. Ricky, 20, passed an entrance exam and earned a scholarship in a college in Marikina last March 2009. Instead of joy, Gemaceta was saddened when she heard it from his son. Even if the school would shoulder Ricky's tuition fee and fare to Manila, she was worried she might not afford the expenses on food, lodging and other school expenses. Disappointed with his parents' decision, Ricky went to Manila on his own.

Michburn, his younger brother, decided to follow his brother to Manila to work as a factory worker. He sends a portion of his earning to his family and allots some to help his brother Ricky in his schooling. Michburn believes Ricky will be kind enough to support the schooling of his other siblings after he graduates from college.

Jenny Rustia, the only girl in Gemaceta's seven children, went to Nueva Vizcaya to work as a house helper. After learning about the job, she immediately asked for her parent's permission. "I was at first hesitant to let my daughter work there, but I realized that if my daughter remains here in the province, she will never be able to finish her education," shared Gemaceta. Gemaceta shared that Jenny's employer allowed her to pursue her college education while working with them.

Unhappy to see her older children leaving one by one, Gemaceta is hoping that her four younger children will not have to leave home to look for means for their education. Luckily for Gemaceta, she is one of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). 4Ps is a poverty reduction program that provides conditional cash grants to poorest households in the country in exchange of compliance to conditions on health and education.

Since August 2008, Gemaceta has been receiving a quarterly cash subsidy of P4,200.00 or P1,400 monthly through an over-the-counter release. With strengthened faith, Gemaceta exclaimed, "My husband and I will work hard for our family. With the help of God and 4Ps, my four younger children will not be like their elder siblings who have gone to other places to earn money to support their studies."

Gemaceta, like all mothers, wants to provide only the best for her children ? safe shelter, nutritious food, and quality education. But like all poor parents, as well, their ability to provide is limited due to insufficiency. It may be sad for Gemaceta to be far from her brood, but it will even be sadder to see her children's hopes fall apart. Gemaceta put aside her doubts and anxiety; and let God guide her children in finding their opportunities and fortunes.

Since 2008, 4Ps has been assisting Gemaceta in providing for her younger children's health and education needs. With continued hard work and support from the program, she and her husband will be able to provide their children a better stake in life ? a future without poverty. (Stella Maris V. Barcelon, DSWD-13/ PIA-Caraga)

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