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Feature Story – A single mother’s struggle amidst the pandemic

For most low-income beneficiaries, the emergency subsidy that they received from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) was allotted for food and other daily necessities. However, for single mother, Erlinda Dela Peña, the cash assistance has helped sustain her son’s life.

Erlinda, a resident of Brgy. Muzon, Taytay, Rizal is one of the 18 million SAP beneficiaries who received financial aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

SAP is a social protection program implemented by various government agencies, including DSWD, to provide emergency subsidy assistance to low-income families in order to mitigate the economic shocks brought by the public health emergency due to COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, Erlinda has been solely supporting her two children for 11 years. Her youngest son, Troy, was diagnosed with brain cancer, a few years after her husband died.

“Simula po nung nagkasakit si Troy, doble kayod at tiyaga po talaga ako para sa amin. Laking pasasalamat ko naman po na for the past 11 years, nalalampasan namin ang bawat pagsubok. Kapag po ganito ang sitwasyon, kailangan pong matutong maging matatag,” Erlinda shared.

Troy has been taking several kinds of medicine for his treatment. According to Erlinda, his medicine amount to P3,000 to P5,000 a week, and if Troy fails to take at least one of his medication, he will be immediately confined to his bed.

“Napakasakit po para sa akin. Hirap po ako kasi po wala po akong mapapagkunan ng mga gamot n’ya. Gusto ko po sanang maghanap ng trabaho, kaso wala naman pong mag-aalaga sa kanya,” Erlinda explained.

To help sustain Troy’s medication, Erlinda seeks help from different agencies and foundations for financial assistance. She also makes handicrafts and takes laundry jobs from nearby subdivisions for their daily sustenance.

However, when the enhanced community quarantine was implemented last March, Erlinda admitted that the effect was really difficult for her family because she can no longer take any jobs due to strict quarantine protocols.

“Talagang sobrang laking challenge po sa amin ng quarantine. Pero inisip ko na lang po na kinaya nga po namin ng 11 years, ngayon pa ba kami susuko,” Erlinda said.

Instead of losing hope, Erlinda once again solicited help from agencies, foundations, and even from her acquaintances. Fortunately, she was able to raise funds for some of Troy’s medicines.

When Erlinda became a SAP beneficiary, she received P6,500. From the financial assistance, she was able to purchase a week’s worth of medicine for Troy and additional supplements, which she cannot afford before.

“Pasalamat naman po at may mga nakakatulong pa rin sa amin. Isa na po doon ang SAP na natanggap namin,” Erlinda shared.

“Napakalaking improvement po ang nangyari simula po nung maibili ko na po ulit s’ya ng kumpletong gamot lalo na po ‘yung gatas. Ngayon po, normal na po ang kanyang paggalaw, hindi na po nagkakaseizures, hindi na rin po laging nakahiga,” Erlinda added.

With the quarantine measures eased up, Erlinda is hopeful to be able to return to work and to solicit funds from concerned citizens to help in the treatment of her son.

“Napakalaki po ng pasasalamat ko sa mga tumulong sa amin simula pa noong una. Bukod po sa anak ko, sila po ang nagpapalakas ng loob ko na lumaban sa anumang pagsubok. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa DSWD, hindi lamang po sa SAP, kundi pati na rin po sa mga financial assistance na naitulong nila sa amin noon. Sana po marami pa silang matulungan.” Erlinda ended. ###

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