If you can give something to other people, what would you give?

As much as we would like to be generous and kind, unfortunately, many of us also have just enough for our own. Not all are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, they say. Others must work hard, persevere, and even endure sacrifices in order to attain at least a decent life.

At an early age, Uminsalam J. Amerol from Barangay Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City, had hurdled many obstacles in life that served as the core foundation of her character. Like many struggling Filipinos, Uminsalam also experienced not having ‘baon’ for recess time in school. With her tiny feet, she would walk back to their home during recess to drink water just so she would not be hungry in class.

She also recalls selling yema and ice candy in the hopes that it would somehow help her parents. Whatever she earns, she shares with her siblings and give some to her parents. As a child, she would not ask for money from her parents because she knows that they do not have any. That, and many other memories, have taught her to constantly seek for opportunities where she could make money and share the blessings that she receives.

With the grace of God and her determination, she was able to finish her studies. But opportunities were quite elusive so she decided to work overseas as a Domestic Helper in Kuwait. It was such a sacrifice because although she belongs to a poor family, they sure share a close and harmonious relationship with each other. Being away from home is something that challenged her strength.

Life as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is not like walking in a park. It can either make you strong or break you apart. And though Uminsalam was lucky that her employer was kind, she cannot escape the thing that bothered her most –her parents were becoming sickly to the point that they frequently checked in and out of the hospital.

After her two-year contract, with very little savings in the bank, she had to come home to be with her parents.

She then proceeded to taking the 24-unit Professional Education so she can qualify to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). During this time, she also has started to build her own family with her husband and children.

In the year 2014, they became members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) track. She feels so grateful that the program was able to help them sustain the needs of her eldest child in school. And since 4Ps beneficiaries are registered to the PhilHealth through the program, the agency was also able to help her family when she gave birth to her second children who are twins.

When asked about what she enjoyed the most about being a member of 4Ps, Uminsalam says that she enjoyed attending the monthly Community/Family Development Session (CFDS). As a mother, she finds value in the lectures that are discussed during their meetings especially on parenting and the rights of women and children.

Luck must be on her side this time. She was able to finish her Professional Education Certification, she became a member of the 4Ps, she just gave birth to two new babies, and in 2016, Uminsalam passed the LET which makes her a licensed teacher.

After two years, she was finally hired as a public-school teacher. With this new opportunity, she felt like she is blessed enough. She can now provide for her family’s needs on her own so she thought that it is time to share the blessings to other families who may have undergone or undergoing struggles as she did in the past.

Going back to her core character, she remembered that in the past, they were also struggling and they can just wish that someone would help them. With that in mind, she decided to waive her membership from the 4Ps program in the hope that some other family/ies will be able to get in, take her slot, and be able to rise from poverty. This is despite the fact that her eldest son is just 8 years old and her second children are still 4 years old which means that she could still have enjoyed the grants from the program for many years should she decide to stay in the program.

Bilang guro, kaya ko nang sustentuhan ang aking pamilya sa tulong na rin ng aking asawa. Humingi na ako ng waiver sa aming Community Facilitator upang makaalis sa programa upang mapagbigyan naman ng daan ang iba pang karapat-dapat na maging parte ng programa. (As a teacher, I feel like I can already sustain the needs of my family with the help of my husband. I requested to be waived from the program from our Community Facilitator to give way to other families who deserve to be part of the program,)” Uminsalam said.

Uminsalam recognizes that she is not rich, at least not yet, but this is her simple gesture of showing gratitude for the blessings that she receives and her gift to poor families just like her. Her generous heart is big enough to care for other families.