Hardworking Mom Is Choosing
to Be Happy in a Hard Place

Story and photos by Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Communications Specialist

Despite their struggles with poverty, Lucy, a brave mother of five, makes a choice every waking day to be happy for her children. Now sponsorship of two of her children has given her even more reasons to smile.

Lucy washes clothes outside her home.

A mother of five and a widow for six years, Lucy juggles menial jobs to survive.

At 51, she does laundry, irons clothes, and sweeps streets to earn just enough to buy rice and provide her kids fare to school.

It’s a daily fight to survive, but for her, it’s a blessing that she can help her kids this way.

“I don’t know how, but somehow I am able to provide for their needs,” says Lucy.

Her eyes seem to smile as she gives herself that little pat on her back.

Being a widow when the kids are still small, Lucy carries all the responsibilities of rearing and providing for them.

Their house is a small concrete structure, unfinished and unpolished, without any cabinets or cupboards to store their belongings. It’s dark, but even darker at night when their solar lamp runs out of energy after two hours of use.

Lucy’s only consolation in this difficult situation is that they can sleep soundly at night because they feel safe in their community.

Life is hard for Lucy’s family. But she has learned to cope during the eight years since they moved here, and she is determined to show her children happiness.

As hard that is on ordinary days, life gets even harder when illness strikes.

A Deadly Disease

Lucy’s 15-year-old son John helps the family by selling vegetables at a “wet market” — a market where vendors sell fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

Lucy’s two sponsored boys peer out from their home.

In this kind of setting, it’s inevitable to be exposed to some disease-causing bacteria, especially if the place is unsanitary and one is not wearing any protection like boots.

Without any extra money to buy such things, John walks on muddy streets in his worn-out flip-flops just to earn a few dollars from selling vegetables.

One day, John fell sick with a potentially deadly bacterial disease called leptospirosis that can be spread through water, soil, or food.

He was admitted to the hospital for a week. Lucy needed to help attend to his needs and was not able to work on those days. To have food to eat, her two other boys, Emmanuel and Andrie, stepped in to sell vegetables in their community as well.

In times like this, Lucy is thankful that they are helping each other as a family. And they rejoiced that John pulled through.

Lucy’s family lives in an urban poor community overshadowed by expensive homes.

“I praise God that he got well,” Lucy says. “Out of 10 [leptospirosis patients] in the hospital, he and another one survived. I do not allow him to go back to the market for now.”

In the Shadow of High Society

Lucy hopes for a better life for her children — that they would be able to get enough to eat, go to school, and stay healthy. But the place they live makes it hard.

Over the years, the development of the surrounding land into high-end villages has left Lucy’s community cut off. They have no proper water or electricity sources and live with unpaved pathways and limited access to livelihood options and government services.

With just a perimeter fence to separate two contrasting lives, Lucy’s community exists in the midst of executive villages with big, luxurious houses owned by wealthy and famous people.

Offers to relocate have been attempted, but families want to hold on to the small pieces of land they own. Although it’s located in the city, this place is isolated by its location.

No Longer Alone

This is why God-loving people from a local church called God’s Glorious Church committed their lives to reaching out to families in Lucy’s community.

Unbeknownst to Lucy, in 2017 her sons Emmanuel and Andrie started spending time at an outreach by God’s Glorious Church held in the neighborhood. They were learning from caring people from the church like Ate Rose, a community leader who has deep compassion for children. (Ate is a term of respect.)

Lucy thought her kids were just roaming around the neighborhood while she was working. She even scolded them for not being around.

Child Champions Give Lucy More Reasons to Be Happy

Then in 2019, God’s Glorious Church partnered with OneChild to open the Lingap ng Puso (Care From the Heart) Hope Center. Ate Rose from the Hope Center came to their house and told Lucy about a wonderful opportunity waiting for her kids. Seeing some noticeable positive changes in her kids’ behavior, Lucy registered the two boys.

Ate Rose from the Hope Center initially told Lucy about the OneChild program there.

“I noticed that my kids are becoming respectful and prayerful,” says Lucy. “They are not like that before when they were hardheaded.”

Lucy sees this as the result of the work of the Child Champions teaching the kids Bible lessons, playing with them, feeding them nutritious food, and covering their health and school needs.

Ate Rose, who has seen these kids growing up, says, “Because they grew up in a poor community, they learn bad words. Whenever I hear them swear, I always remind them that it’s not good.”

And she is thankful that through sponsors and Hope Center staff, she now has partners in transforming the kids’ lives.

But it’s not only the kids who are experiencing transformation. Lucy also finds herself enjoying fellowship over studying the Bible along with other mothers and Child Champions.

“We get to know each other well in those Bible studies. It makes me happy,” says Lucy.

Lucy has experienced a lot of difficult situations in her life, including the disintegration of her family when she was young.

“Our house got demolished and then we went separate ways. I do not want that to happen to [my children and me],” Lucy says.

But despite everything she has gone through, Lucy always chooses to be happy.

“I am a happy person. I don’t allow myself to drown in my problems because I know the children will suffer if I do. At night, I think about my problems. But I tell myself ‘I will be happy in the morning.’”

Make a child or a family happy by sending them a special gift today. To learn more about ways to give, visit our Family Gift page.


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