Please Help Me

Filed Under (Stories) by maripipi on 10-02-2010

Front Row: Marisa and Chita.Chita is the reason for which the organization was formed.

When I arrived Maripipi Island, it was muggy and humid. There were plenty of insects that bothered me wherever I went. There was no running water and  no electricity.  A week into my vacation, I felt miserable. I missed Colorado, my children, the food, the cool weather and I also missed my squirrel friend.  All of a sudden I realized I am not in the US any longer. I wanted to go back home to Colorado badly but my return ticket was scheduled for another three months.

I introduced activities to the ladies in the island just to keep going.  At 4:30 in the morning I taught them aerobic exercise. We congregate by the sea wall at 4:00 AM and by 5:00 AM we were done.

Aerobics at dawn

We’d pass by the bakery and have breakfast of coffee and bread in my house before we dispersed.

One day, there were forty-four women in our group. A new face in the back looked at me with a nice smile. She was very thin and malnourished.  After aerobics she approached me and introduced herself.  She is the daughter of one of my classmates in the elementary grades. Her name is Chita. She told me she married young, had two children who were grown up. After her first husband died, she remarried and had another four children with her second husband but then husband number two also died. Being left a widow again, she had difficulty coping even with the bare necessities of life. She worked as a laundry woman and earned $50.00 a month.  They would cook once a day because that is all she could afford.  They eat at 4:00 PM and by 11:00 PM she can hear the children crying from hunger.  She pretended not to hear their cries.  She plugged her ears and covered her face with a pillow trying to muffle their cries of hunger.  Chita asked me if I could use her services to make additional money to supplement her meager income.  I asked her if she knows how to sew. She said she knew a little, in fact she had an idle sewing machine at home.  I told her to come to my house when she is free so I can teach her how to make house clothes and sell them locally.

Chita, Naida and MarisaWhen I arrived home, Chita was already in my house waiting for me.  She had her sewing machine with her.  I gave her breakfast then I taught her how to sew.  She was a quick learner.  Soon three more member of our aerobic group came to the sewing lesson.  We sold our product locally.  The clothes were sold on credit. Only half came back as cash. The people don’t have the money to purchase anything, not even food. “There must be a better way to help these people. “  I said to my self. I remembered about the handmade cloth dolls I once made for my patients when I was working in the pediatric unit at United Hospital in Port Chester, New York.

Saturdays I’d meet the members for two hours and allow them to talk about themselves. Then I teach them values, the principles of natural laws before I taught them  “the hand process of doll making”. All of them had to learn to embroider the face. Then the yarn hair is rolled in cardboard box, cut then sewed to the back of the head before sewing the body together.

I designed the shoes myself and taught them how to handle this delicate work. I paid them by piece every week so they can buy the food.

Some of the members work as cleaners for the school plaza but their income is not sufficient to buy food for their families.  I went to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Naval, Biliran and wrote a proposal for securing sewing machines for a livelihood program. I was denied because doll making is not their priority. Where will I go from here? This project needs my dedication and commitment to what I want to accomplish. Several times I wanted to give up.  We never got any support of any kind from the government especially if they know your political affiliation (mostly anti-incumbent). Unless we lead by example there is no end to the suffering of these people who are the victims of the greed, neglect and apathy of a few and powerful people.

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