An experience of how a family faced poverty, and other problems, trusting in God’s love and in their neighbors… and how they were able to help others who are more in need.
Jun and Flor Zamora live with their three kids in Pasay city. The names of their children are Christian, Angela and Igino. In 2001, their two children started to receive educational assistance from the Focolare Bukas Palad (BP) Social Action Center in Pasay City. Flor became a Bukas Palad (BP) community worker and receives a monthly allowance.
Jun is a contractual worker and earns a minimum wage. After combining their incomes, Jun shares, “We still have difﬁculties in budgeting for our needs and it happens most of the time. Thus we decided to cook and sell breakfast meals to our neighbors and started to collect and sell scrap materials like paper, plastic, and copper etc… In this way we are able to meet our daily needs, and even provide for the school projects of the kids and some other expenses.
Assistance for our family
Focolare has given much help to our family, aside from school supplies, uniforms, weekly allowance and tuition fee; they also give tutorials to the children.”
The couple is grateful to the help from Focolare’s Bukas Palad Center, as Flor shares, “We have experienced our dignity as children of God. I and my husband decided not to use the words “we are poor”, words which we think can
be demeaning. That’s why often we tell our children that they have to save up for the things that they want to have.” She recounts one signiﬁcant experience.
“One time, one of our small children took some money from my wallet, and we called our children together to ask them about it. Since Jhun and I got very angry, our children were scared and started crying. This experience was repeated. We knew then that they were not receiving enough for their allowances, yet we didn’t have any other resources so as to increase their allowances. For this reason we taught our children how to budget their money. I did extra work on the side for our relatives so we could augment their allowances and we did this regularly. After this experience they have become thrifty and more organized with their budget.”
Jhun shares: “It was a blessing for our family to receive assistance from Bukas Palad. Consequently my wife did her best to tutor our children especially in their studies. We always encourage them to study hard in return for the help that they are receiving. But life is not always smooth sailing for one of our children lost his way. Instead of going to school he went out with his friends and spent his allowance on computer games. I felt stressed out most of the time because of what happened”
Flor continues: “Jhun and I sat down to talk it over. We decided that I should quit my job to look after our children. I still continue to sell breakfast and merienda (snacks)
in front of our house to help my husband.
I couldn’t sell during rainy season because of the ﬂood and this affects my income and sometimes I even draw on my capital when someone in the family gets sick. There are times we don’t have enough because Jhun is the only one who goes to work and has a regular income.”
Christian their eldest son adds: “As I grow up I realize how my parents are trying to raise us, knowing that they had also experienced hard times when they were young. So I do my best to study hard. When I was in ﬁrst year college I have to admit that I had a hard time with my Information Technology course. I failed some of my subjects, so I talked it over with my parents to understand the reasons why I had failed. They suggested that I change course. In fact this experience left me depressed. My parents had to always remind me to study well for my future. Each semester seemed so long because of what happened. I think I failed in 5 subjects.”
An instrument that this family uses to open up communication among them is their family meeting. Jhun explains, “We got used to holding family meetings, where we talk about some issues that we were facing: ﬁnancial and material needs of each family member and other issues like our expectations for each other.
We also talked about my son, Christian’s difﬁculties in school. We decided to ﬁnd a new school where he could continue his studies.
Christian admits: “I know that my transfer will not be easy. This means an additional year of study, because I’ll be choosing a completely new curriculum. So even if my parents had advised me to shift to another course I still chose Information Technology, as I couldn’t see myself taking up another course. Nevertheless, I still felt the immense support of my parents who respected my decision. I acquired new hope and did my best in my studies. I have never had a failing grade since my transfer and I even participate now in extra-curricular activities in school.”
Jhun, grateful to God, shares: “One of our children received a full scholarship in a university, and Flor now has a regular job. This is enough to support our family and the children’s studies. We decided to give the slots of our children from the social center to other families of the Focolare who need more help. We knew that we will still face more challenges in life, but we also know that God will never leave us, especially when we do things together as a family.”