How an Ati family’s life changed

SHE wore a smile as her eyes radiantly showed happiness that was even more shining as it caught the reflection of the mid-morning sunlight. She was enveloping in each of her arm her two children in what seemed to be a show of love and protection.

Forty-year-old Leonida Bartolome of Brgy. Balabag, Boracay, Malay, Aklan, is a mother to five children namely 21-year-old Judelyn, 18-year-old Jeremy Jhon, nine-year-old Abegail, seven-year-old Joel Jr., and five-year-old Aniza.

Married to Joel, a laborer, the family is one of the Ati community folks who live in Boracay Island.

According to Leonida, her way of life was far different before when they were not covered yet by Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the government of the Philippines’ version of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“I am thankful because we, Atis, are also given attention. We are beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya,” said Leonida.

Leonida’s three children are covered by the program and are receiving cash grants for their education and health every other two months.

“It has helped us so much. When my husband had no work, we really had no money. Now, we have money to buy bag, notebook and slippers for the children,” she said.

Leonida said that seeing to it that dishes are washed right after meals and sweeping their floor were tasks that seemed foreign to her.

“During our Family Development Sessions (FDS), we are taught about the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of our house, how to take care of our children and that they should be in school,” Leonida said.

Now, she says that her children are helping her keep the cleanliness at home as well as washing the plates and utensils.

Leonida also gave credit to the Daughters of Charity nuns of the Colegio De San Jose College for guiding them in managing their households and community.
According to Leonida, one thing which makes her thankful as a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary is the change in her husband’s behavior towards drinking liquor.

“While he used to drink liquor always before, he now rarely does it. He is not hard headed anymore. He does not want our cash grants from the government stopped,” she said.

When asked about her dreams, Leonida beamed and said that “they should finish college.”
She said that she wants her children to have better chances in life and education is their pathway.

“If they finish college, they could help the rest of their siblings,” she said./dswd6/May Grecia-Rago

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