When Rona Mae Gallego lost her job as an overseas Filipino worker due to an illness, she and her partner, Julius, went through such an ordeal to sustain the medicines and therapy of their now 11-year-old daughter, who has Rett Syndrome.
It didn’t help that they constantly had to move from one place to another, relying on the mercy of their parents and siblings just to have a house to stay in.
“It was such a difficult situation. My partner and I constantly faced a lot of problems, which made him resort to drinking. Most of his income would go to his drinking and there wouldn’t be enough left for us,” recalled Rona.
To help provide for the needs of their daughter, Rona had to seek help from loan sharks. But their increasing debts became a financial burden. Despite too many curveballs thrown their way, Rona never lost hope but instead, strengthened her faith that someday, their life would take a turn for the better. And finally, it did when they got selected as a Habitat homepartner.
Rona tearfully remembered, “Last December 2019 was our first Christmas in this new house that I can call my own. I can’t forget the happiness of my daughter. She was all smile when we moved into the house and she slept comfortably that night. Having a decent home is so important when you have a kid. You’re able to plan your life better because your basic housing need is addressed.”
Living in the Katuwang Community for over a year now has made a huge difference in their lives. Rona has found better ways to earn and save up through a small buy-and-sell business that also helps provide livelihood to some of their neighbors. With his drinking lessened, Julius has a renewed sense of responsibility and starts making plans for their future. They’ve also learned to avail of the services of microfinance institutions, which help boost their livelihood and increase their savings. More importantly, their daughter, Em-em, is happier and more comfortable.
Despite the difficulties during the pandemic, Rona keeps her faith that everything will be just fine. They will keep fighting amid challenges. No more moving, no more unbearable debts. With more stable finances, a decent home of their own, and a more hopeful future, Rona’s optimistic that they can overcome any crisis, even the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If this pandemic happened before, it would have been difficult for our family because we didn’t have a permanent home. That’s why I’m grateful to have our own home now. We feel safer, more comfortable, and more secure,” said Rona with a fulfilled smile.
Help more Filipino families like Rona’s build strength, stability, and self-reliance through decent shelter. Support Habitat’s programs today: habitat.org.ph/donatenow.