Gemma’s Smile Against Her Tears

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Written by Femina Laya Canua, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines

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Gemma cannot hide her big smile after Operation Blessing turned over a fish vending business to help her family in their finances.

In a house patched with small wood pieces, dried coconut leaves and recycled plywood, Operation Blessing Philippines met the joyful Gemma Ibañes, a 34-year-old mother of five children.

Like any other mothers, Gemma busily attends to her family’s daily needs. She gets up at six in the morning to fetch water from the nearby well, take care of her children, carry out house chores and do other people’s laundries for additional income.

Her 31-year-old husband, Sulito, makes copra and earns Php 1,500 ($31.83) every four months during harvest time. If Sulito does not make copra, he does not have other means of income and only stays home. Their family depends largely on the Php 1,500 they get from the government during every quarter month. A lot of times, meal is only served once or twice a day in their 7-member household.

Making matters more complicated, it was hard for Gemma to know that her 7-year-old son Ben was diagnosed with primary complex and third degree malnutrition. Although Ben is playful with other children, he is smaller and only weighs 13 kilos rather than the normal 21 kilos for his age.

Ben Castillo

Seven-year-old Ben Castillo wearing his big smile in front of their house.

As she forced a smile through her tears, Gemma shared she could never forget the day she felt so frustrated because they could not afford to send Ben to the doctor when he had an asthma attack. Gemma admitted financial hardships limit her to give her family a better way of living.

So when OB offered to enlist Ben in a program that would allow him to be fed for 10-months and undergo proper medication, Gemma did not have any doubts and agreed to make time for such program. Gemma will also join other parents and guardians of children enrolled in the program as OB teaches them health education, values formation and livelihood. She was also granted a fish vending business to help generate more income for her family’s needs.

Operation Blessing believes that the children in Northern Samar are worth investing for. You can be our partner in helping them achieve transformed lives. Click this link and give now http://www.obphil.com/home/give-through-banks/

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