From DSWD beneficiary to carer

I MET her three years ago. She was then clasping the hand of her son who was leaning on her in what looked to be a genuine show of protection.

That time, she was listening to lectures from the National Government Agencies (NGAs) on their different programs. She was one of the participants of the Beneficiaries Congress organized by the Social Marketing Unit of DSWD Field Office VI to help them access the services of the government and find their way to uplift their living condition.

Ninfa Cape Alejandro of Jamindan, Capiz paid attention as speakers from Philhealth, Department of Agriculture, Technical Educations Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Health (DOH) talked about their services. She also scribbled some notes every now and then.

Ninfa Cape Alejandro (third from left, wearing hat), now a DSWD worker, is happy to share that she was once a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Ninfa is shown here with fellow workers during a recent groundbreaking ceremony for an P818,000-worth health center in Brgy. Matnog, Ivisan, Capiz. Also in photo is Mayor Felipe Neri Yap (center, in gray).

About a week ago, I met Ninfa again. This time, Ninfa was already hired as a Community Empowerment Facilitator under the Kalahi-NCDDP (KapitBisig Laban saKahirapan-National Community Driven Development Project).

“I am so happy that I am now hired as a DSWD employee. Pantawid Pamilya provided us financial support for the education and health of my children but more than the money, it was my learnings from the Family Development Sessions (FDS) that taught me to change our life for the better,” Ninfa said.

Forty-three-year-old Ninfa is married to Ronilo Alejandro, 46. They have three children namely Nifan Gee, 12 years old; Febe , 10 years old; and Niro, six years old.

Under the Pantawid Pamilya, a beneficiary should comply with program conditions. One of which is attendance to the FDS.

“My attendance to FDS sessions taught me to strive harder. It also taught me to nurture our good relationship in the family,” she said.

Ninfa finished Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. For three years, she has focused on being a housewife.

Years prior that, she had experienced working as a teacher in day care.

Ninfa said that the FDS has taught her to improve her personality. “I learned to improve and love myself and gain confidence. I also knew how to deal and befriend people. Also, I was motivated to make use of my talents and skills,” she said.

Ninfa also said that her attendance to the meetings taught her to protect their livelihood. While she was not employed, she was into hograising.

Ninfa said that she is proud that she is working at DSWD. “After years of being unemployed, I am now employed at DSWD. Ini pangarap lang sang una (this was just a dream a long time ago),” she said.

She said she appreciates the government for giving opportunities to the poor to improve their lives.

“Through DSWD, I saw that the government is helping the poor—from babies inside the womb until they are born. I like the way the government cares for the poor,” she said.

“I love to work for DSWD and I love working as a social worker,” she added.

Far from being a beneficiary years back, Ninfa is serving as a community facilitator now in Ivisan, Capiz Province.

She is helping organize the community through a Community Driven Development (CDD) approach to implement Kalahi-NCDDP.

Kalahi is a community-driven development project where communities and their LGU counterparts are trained to assess their situation, identify the solution, plan and implement their own sub-projects that address their most pressing need in a participatory, transparent and accountable manner.

CDD is an empowering process which gives voice and opportunity for the people in the barangays to participate.

It also gives opportunity to the people to identify their own problems, propose for solution and implement such.

Ninfa was smiling when I met her. That time, she was about to claim her salary as a CEF.  Her smile mirrored not only happiness. It also showed a more empowered and positive Ninfa./ By May Grecia-Rago, DSWD6 Regional Information Officer


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