Happy birthday, Joven! His mother isn’t sure whether Joven turns five or six today, but after having given birth 14 times (with eight children surviving) and living on a husband’s daily income of Php 180, we can’t blame her if she can no longer keep track.
We first met Joven in Davao Occidental when he was 15 months old, his small body covered in rashes, with thinning hair, and barely able to crawl. After a triple dose of daily Mingo Meals for six months, Joven transformed into our very own Mingo miracle. Gone was his skin rash, his hair had fully grown, and he could stand and walk on his own.
Today, Joven, now enrolled in kindergarten, walks 300 meters to school in a uniform a kind sponsor has given him.
Poverty continues to cast its shadow
While Joven has made a turnaround, problems still hound the family. An older sister’s high school education is sponsored, but on days when there’s no money for food, she is absent. It’s the same with Joven and the other siblings. On the day we revisited the family, there was no rice to cook because the father, the only breadwinner, was sick and did not earn for the day making hollow blocks.
Still searching for a solution
We are still at a loss as to the best way this family could increase its income. It’s not going to be easy finding the solution, or even temporarily augmenting their food supply. But while we rack our brains, meantime, we greet little Joven a happy birthday. We pray that his future, along with that of his family, will brighten over the years.