In Northern Samar, where income for most people is only enough either for food or bills, mothers like Emily struggle to manage every peso their husbands earn to make ends meet.

Cooking is what Emily does best. Yet all she’s waiting for is an opportunity to make the most of her skill.

Emily’s life before was marked with constant financial strain. When her husband’s hours were done at a construction site, together they made charcoals to sell and used their meager earnings to buy food for their family. Emily knew that the food they were able to provide was not enough to feed and properly nourish her family, but all she could do was to stretch whatever they had and see her four children struggle with the challenge of inadequate food every day.

Too focused to meet their daily needs, Emily overlooked the health of her youngest child, 3-year-old Jenny. Jenny was diagnosed with a 3rd degree malnourished and stunted condition.

Emily and her daughter, Jenny, at the registration area of the medical mission of Operation Blessing in their place.

When Operation Blessing came to their place for the Bless-A-Child (BAC) program, Jenny became part of it along with 16 other children from Brgy. Colab-Og in Northern Samar.  Through the help of a local church partner, these children were followed-up and fed daily for a year.

Emily in pink shirt, sits with her daughter and the other parents of BACs for their weekly values formation seminar.

In the program, not only were the children given care but their parents were also trained to become better parents. They underwent training in health education, parenting, and sustainable livelihood. “Little did I know that I can actually do more. I am very grateful that I learned a lot from the seminars, which taught me things I thought I already knew,” Emily said.

Emily also knew that her skills in cooking would allow her to help sustain their needs, but she did not have enough capital to start a food business. So Operation Blessing Philippines and partners went to work to help the struggling mother start a barbecue business.

The start-up materials for Emily’s business.

Through the training, Jenny’s mother was also given an opportunity to lead the parents with their group livelihood, where they sell sardines and native delicacies like calamay and puto-leche, which are now popular in their community.

“If there are occasions, people look for us and order some of our products,” Emily shared with a big smile.

Today, thankful for the help they received, Emily and the other BAC parents pay it forward by working hard to return the capital, which will be used for other struggling families to start their own sustainable livelihood and feed more children.