Building Family Bonds in Tondo
Children imitate the environment they live in. They are little sponges, soaking up information at an impressive rate. When parents support their children emotionally, spiritually, and economically, they flourish into confident, community-minded adults who can support themselves. But sometimes, parents need help, especially those raised in poverty. To break the barriers to poverty, we need to break the mindset of defeat.
At our Tondo site in the Philippines, a weekend seminar for couples designed to strengthen relationships is healing bonds, lifting families, and giving children the confidence they need to succeed.
Every month, about 40 couples attend the seminar, which has been running since 2018. Like many new initiatives, attendance and participation were a challenge in the beginning. Our site workers were bombarded with reasons that people couldn’t attend, the most common being that fathers have to work or there would be no food for the day.
After a few seminars, things started to change when others noticed the positive changes in the couples who attended all of the sessions. Participants felt good when they finished; they felt loved. Most were able to renew their relationships, not only with their spouse but with themselves. Their children felt the difference, too. Initially, the program was intended to teach guardians to be better parents, but it ended up being so much more. There are amazing stories of mended relationships that warm the heart. Participants learned to take responsibility for their words, thoughts, and actions and reported that the sessions helped them better understand themselves, their mate, and their children.
Melody, a mother from the site, was always known for being very loud. Conversations with her husband were argumentative and full of colorful language. They had lost feelings of love, closeness, and intimacy, and were filled with resentment and anger. Melody was fed up with her husband who was not very motivated to work or look after his family. During the sessions, her husband was sobbing as he realized how much he had hurt his wife. He changed his traditional views and took responsibility for his family. Sadly, Melody had been suffering from diabetes and passed away in 2019. Now that Melody is gone, her husband has stepped up and is caring for their children, working and attending the monthly meetings for his Chalice family circle – providing his family budget, seeing to his children’s needs, and supporting other group members. He is a changed man and is very grateful for the seminar and the continued support of the site staff.
“Most of our parents had been too busy tending their daily lives and had forgotten to dream,” reports Eunice, the site director. “They did not believe that dreams can ever come true. The seminars changed all that. The vision boards are hung at home and parents are working towards achieving their goals.”
With their new-found zest for life, parents are more open to learning. With help from gift catalog funds, the site offered skills training workshops, including basic computer literacy, financial literacy, bookkeeping, and leadership skills. Parents painstakingly attended as many training sessions as they could, knowing how valuable it was to learn new skills. With a little help and new perspective, they have blossomed into confident leaders who can take charge of their lives and families. Bravo!