Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Slum Community Benefits from Food Security Program

Marilyn Cerrito receives a food voucher so she can buy healthier food for her children.

Marilyn Cerrito receives a food voucher so she can buy healthier food for her children.

Families in the Philippines receive help from food and cash voucher project.

“Even budgeting for salt is a challenge,” said 38-year old Magdalena Gagate, who lives in a slum community in the Philippines.

Magdalena’s husband only earns about $70 a month making deliveries for a hardware store. She has six children, and one of them is malnourished.

Magdalena is a beneficiary of the Samaritan’s Purse food security project in Tondo, Manila. Families in the program live below the poverty line and struggle to provide for their families.

Lerma Romero, Pamela Dela Peña, and Magdalena Gagate are beneficiaries of a Samaritan's Purse food program in the Philippines

Lerma Romero, Pamela Dela Peña, and Magdalena Gagate are beneficiaries of a Samaritan’s Purse food program in the Philippines.

“Whenever my husband receives his pay for the week, he would buy a sack of whatever fruit is in season and bring it home for me to sell,” Magdalena said.

Pamela Dela Peña, 30, is a single mother of two kids under age 5. She earns an income primarily by doing laundry or manicure services.

“When I fall short, I ask help from my mother. She sells hats,” Pamela said shyly.

Marilyn Cervito’s husband works as a porter at a nearby pier, but only part-time, and just twice in a given week. The young mother of five sells native sampaguita flower leis to earn an extra $2-3 to help cover basic needs like rice.

“We manage somehow. All it takes is a bit of creativity,” Marilyn said, although she added that sending her kids to school empty-handed is always hard.

I felt tears welling up in my eyes. It was not pity that moved me to tears, but admiration for the tenacity of these hard-working women.

Each of the women said repeatedly how much Samaritan’s Purse has helped their families. The food and cash vouchers they receive through the project help them provide their children with nutritious food.

Children are growing healthier and stronger because they have nutritious food to eat.

Children are healthier because they have nutritious food to eat.

The project, which is implemented with the help of local partners, also integrates teaching on proper nutrition and basic health knowledge.

“We’re applying what we learned one by one,” said Lerma Cerbito, who spreads her daily income of $7 among her five children.

The mothers took turns sharing things they have learned through the project, such as feeding their children a balanced diet, the health and financial benefits of breastfeeding over formula milk, and how to boil water properly.

Children are gaining weight and becoming healthier with increased food consumption and preventive medicine. The beneficiaries have also opened a savings fund to help practice healthy financial management. More importantly, they are learning about stewardship in a Biblical context.

“I only took my spiritual life seriously when I joined the Samaritan’s Purse project,” Pamela said. “I’ve never been into spiritual things, but now I find myself joining Bible studies. We really feel that you’re giving us complete attention and care.”

The women I talked to were tenacious, to say the least, but how wonderful to see them realizing God’s love even during their troubles. More than the practical knowledge they gained or the financial assistance they received, they were grateful for that spark of hope that was ignited in their hearts through holistic intervention by people who care in Jesus’ Name.

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