What do you do when the pandemic has wiped out your livelihood and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from? For Robina from Aklan, it is to keep on going and even find more ways to serve other people in these tough times.
When tough times get tougher
Even before the pandemic, Robina and her family already had a hard time making ends meet. Her husband’s construction work was not stable enough to ensure they had enough money for their daily needs. Robina supplemented their income by selling fern and fishtail palm leaves — leaves commonly used to decorate the aisles of churches for weddings.
Getting the leaves was back-breaking work. Robina used to go up the mountain and climb trees over 12 feet tall with a knife and a hook to reach the fishtail palms. Then, she carried them on her shoulders until she reached the road and found transport to deliver them. She sold the leaves for Php 250 per sack and could earn more than Php 1,000 every week. This amount went a long way for their expenses at home. Then this income all disappeared in one fell swoop upon the pandemic.
Early in the community quarantines, Robina and her family didn’t have enough to eat. They harvested leafy vegetables from their backyard just to get through the day. To add to their expenses, her two children who were in college and high school only had one mobile phone between them to accomplish their school modules. They needed Php 100 every week for their mobile data. Then they had to stay outside to snatch a signal for the phone to do their school work.
Robina’s Php 200 honorarium as Barangay Health Worker was not enough to meet their daily needs and monthly bills. To create another way to get income, she took out a loan from her savings group and started a new business selling fish by the road, near their house.
Wholehearted work even in a difficult season
Even with all the difficulties she faced during the pandemic, Robina continued to fulfill her role as a church leader, ICM program holder, Savings Group Chaplain, Family Academy (FA) Coach, and now an FA Coordinator Assistant.
“Using my experience and ideas from being an FA Coach before, I wholeheartedly contribute my labor to help mothers in teaching their children, especially those who live in remote areas,” Robina shared.
Earning money and doing volunteer work in the midst of a pandemic is not easy. Yet, Robina still gives her time and energy into being her family’s breadwinner along with her other work and ministry. “Time management and my eagerness to serve God through my ministry helps me manage all my responsibilities,” she added.
Now, Robina’s earning enough to support her family, all while serving her community. It’s the hope and compassion for her family and community that keeps her going, even when times get tough.