Melmar took a huge leap for love when she married Clino and moved away to Zamboanga more than thousand kilometers away from her hometown in Bicol. She had met her husband while working in Manila, fallen in love, married and eventually moved to Clino’s hometown. But the storybook ending started to unravel when the couple’s savings began to dwindle and Clino’s farming income proved inadequate. Fearful that her children would go hungry, 27-year-old Melmar got into debt buying food in the neighborhood store and then resorted to borrowing rice from her mother-in-law.
“You haven’t repaid your previous loan yet!” accused her mother-in-law. Melmar vividly recalled that painful scene. She had expected sympathy but received a scolding instead. Deeply hurt, she nevertheless swallowed her pride and took the rice to feed her children. Alone, and away from the support of her own family and friends, Melmar longed for breakthrough from her pain and despair.
Transform gave Melmar the opportunity she desperately craved. “I have my own income now!” she proudly exclaimed. Through the program’s Livelihood lessons, she learned to cook kutsinta (sticky rice cakes) which she sells, earning her at least US$4.20 (PHP200) per day. With the money she was able to pay off her debts and provide food for her children. Determined to grow her business, she plans to buy a bigger rice cooker and steamer so she can increase her sales. What’s more, she is aiming to sell her snacks in the larger town to find new customers.
Most importantly, Melmar has found a source of strength and peace to help her cope with her struggles, especially her difficult relationship with her mother-in-law. Before attending Transform, Melmar coped by venting to her husband and, while she kept a truce with her mother-in-law, she secretly harbored ill-feelings towards her. Now, despite the constant challenge of supporting her family and none of her own relatives lean on, Melmar has developed the fortitude to be patient and stay positive. She no longer feels helpless and hopeless. “I let go of my worries because I feel the joy and hope that is found in the Lord,” she confidently said.