Never in her life has she imagined herself traveling to different places, let alone to a foreign country.
For Mirian B. Denoy, a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary since 2020, traveling is a luxury that she will never experience, mainly because she was born to a poor family. She simply had no means to travel anywhere outside the small province of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Nevertheless, fate and opportunities have a different plan for Mirian as she was given an opportunity to fly to the northwest side of Europe.
Mirian was chosen to become one of the five+ delegates from the Philippines and the only one from Mindanao Region to the Exchange Learning on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Belgium.
“Nadala ko po doon sa Belgium yung ating magagandang experiences, especially po regarding doon sa climate change (I shared our best practices and experiences, especially on climate change, during the exchange learning in Belgium),” Mirian said.
On the other hand, she also learned new technologies that can be used in her community which is a coastal area.
So yung hydroponic type or scheme na ginagawa po nila for planting, pwede po nating gawin dito although mayroon na po tayong mga ginagawang hydroponic alternatives dito po sa Pilipinas… So sana, yung DSWD, under Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, sana ay dadalahin nila yon para maituro sa aming mga Pantawid beneficiaries (We can use that hydroponic type or scheme that they are doing, although we have some alternatives here in the Philippines. I hope that the DSWD can bring that knowledge and teach that to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program),” she added.
Mirian stayed in Belgium, all expenses paid, until September 25, 2022, as a representative of the Kapunungan sa Gagmay Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC).
Learning to fly again through 4Ps
“Minsan umiiyak na lang ang mga bata kasi kulang ang gamit nila sa school. Nasasaktan ako bilang nanay (Sometimes my children would cry because their school supplies are incomplete. It hurts me as a mother),” Mirian shared as she looked back to her family’s living condition before becoming a 4Ps beneficiary.
Mirian, together with her husband, Samuel, and their three young children, are living at the side of a riverbank in Barangay Concepcion. Samuel works as a fisherman earning roughly 200 pesos a day and sometimes works extra at an oyster farm.
Due to poverty, Mirian was not able to finish her studies. She shared that she supported her schooling in college but did not afford to finish it.
When she started a family and became a mother, she thought that she must serve as a role model to her three children who are currently in Grades 9, 4, and 2.
As a 4Ps beneficiary, she made sure that she learns valuable lessons each time she attends Family Development Sessions (FDS). FDS is a monthly meeting of program beneficiaries to discuss relevant topics such as financial management, family planning, parenting, disaster preparedness, livelihood, and skills training, among others.
For Mirian, the FDS is a great venue to learn things that could help alleviate the well-being of the 4Ps beneficiaries, including her family. She shared that the program is not only about receiving cash grants, but more importantly, it is about empowering households to help themselves and escape the vicious cycle of poverty.
Spreading her wings
In 2021, Mirian decided to continue to pursue her college degree. Currently, she is a second-year college student at the Sibugay Technical Institute, Inc. (STII) taking up Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Mirian shared that her co-beneficiaries in the program and in the association that she belongs to encouraged her to continue her studies as they see her potential.
“Na-challenge ako sa association namin. Wala kasi kaming accountant kaya ginusto ko na makatulong sa association (Our association does not have an accountant. I want to help the association and so I took the challenge to pursue my studies),” Mirian shared.
Indeed, this experience allowed her to spread her wings even further with support from the government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is the lead implementor of 4Ps.
4Ps is a social protection program of the DSWD that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly children 0-18 years old. It uses the conditional cash transfer scheme to provide cash grants to the beneficiaries that comply with the program conditionalities of sending their children to school, undergoing regular health check-ups, and attending the FDS.
As of 30 September 2022, the program covers a total of 4,285,531 active household beneficiaries nationwide. Of these, 277,487 are from the Zamboanga Peninsula Region. ###