Kalahi-CIDSS: Single mother weaves new chance at life

Madalag, Aklan- Joana Nabalde, 27, of Brgy. Sta. Catalina has had various problems come her way in the past two years.

Despite her youth, she has gone through more than other women twice her age – losing a child to an illness, being abandoned by her husband, and taking care of her two children singlehandedly.

Joana admits that her experiences for the past couple of years almost broke her.

“Akala ko, wala akong kakayahang makagawa (I thought I did not have the capacity to do anything),” Joana said teary-eyed, describing how her self-esteem crashed after being abandoned by her husband.

According to her, she would have been completely devastated if not for the arrival of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) in their town.

New chance

Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). As a community-driven development project, it involves citizens in the development process by ensuring that they are active participants in identifying and solving local poverty issues.

One of the selected sub-projects implemented here is the provision of Abaca handicrafts trainings, in partnership with PIÑA MANTRA.

The handicrafts training was implemented as part of the Gender Incentive Grant (GIG) provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) to Kalahi-CIDSS to help resolve gender issues that contribute to local poverty issues.

Aside from Abaca handicrafts, the GIG also provided plumbing and welding trainings for women who were interested in taking part in these.

Joana, with 59 other women, was able to join the handicrafts training.

She said her being part of the training and volunteering in the Kalahi-CIDSS formed part of the first steps she took to move on with her life.

She recalls thinking, “Ako na lang ang mag-aalaga sa mga anak ko (I will take care of my children myself).”

Being a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer, she became more active in her community, resulting in her Barangay Captain entrusting her with more responsibilities, including serving as the Barangay Representative in the municipality, roles which she accepted although she was reluctant at first.

Part of her reluctance stemmed from the fact that some people are doubtful of her abilities.

Joana said that some fellow villagers talked behind her back.

She narrated, “Sinasabi ng mga tao na ‘di naman daw ako naka-graduate ng high school. Wala raw akong alam, walang kakayahan (People say that I am just a high school undergraduate. I don’t know anything and have no skills).”

These comments, according to Joana, humiliated her at first.

“Minsan, nahihiya na akong pumunta sa munisipyo kasi parati na lang ako sinasabihan ng mga tao (I sometimes get embarrassed to go to the municipal hall because of what people are saying).”

Eventually, however, she was able to tune out these negative comments, thanks in part to the support of her Barangay Captain and her increasing confidence through her volunteerism in Kalahi-CIDSS.

“Nawala na ang hiya ko (My shyness waned),” Joana said with a small smile.

Completing the training is a source of great pride for her.

Joana said, “Na-experience ko kung paano makatanggap ng diploma. Natakot ako, pero naging masaya rin. Ganito pala ang graduation na tinatawag (I got to experience what it’s like to receive a diploma. I was scared, but it turned out well. So this is what they meant by graduation),” she said with a big grin.

She added, “Sinasabihan kasi nila ako na wala akong diploma. Ayan, may diploma na ako (They keep telling me that I don’t have a diploma. Now I do).”

Joana is now getting ready to apply her new skills by working in a handicrafts company in their town.

She shared, “Excited na ako magtrabaho. Nag-pa-practice ako mag-isa sa bahay (I am excited to work. I practice at home).”

When asked the most important lesson she learned in Kalahi-CIDSS, Joana had this to say: “Mapapakita ko na sa ibang tao na kaya ko na. Kaya ko nang mabuhay na wala ang asawa ko. Noon, lagi lang ako umaasa sa asawa ko. Pero noong naranasan ko na ang hirap, kaya ko pala. Kapag may mga tao na sumusuporta sa iyo, kaya mo pala (I can show other people that I can stand on my own two feet. I can live without my husband. In the past, I always relied on him. However, when I went through hardships, I learned I can do things without him. You can make it when you have people supporting you).”

She concluded, “Nalaman ko sa Kalahi-CIDSS na may silbi ako (I learned in Kalahi-CIDSS that I have value).” #