Cordillera Administrative Region- This is not your typical love story. But this is a story of a girl who has found new hope out of love.
Her name implies the sweetest feeling an individual might ever experience. But life’s challenges brought her the bitterness of reality.
Let us call her by the name of Joy. At the age of four, Joy has already witnessed pain as she, her two older siblings and her mother ran away from their abusive father. They were later on left by their mother with their relatives in Batangas.
With the failed relationship, Joy’s mother decided to build a new family. Soon, Joy and her siblings were already living with the family of their stepfather. Everything went well as the step father was described to be kind and responsible even with Joy and her siblings.
But the death of their new born siblings triggered their step father to physically abuse Joy’s mother which was later on inflicted to Joy and her siblings as they were left by their mother who was then working on her employment documents.
Without the knowledge of the abuse that her children have been going through, Joy’s mother went to work abroad in 2012. Joy and her siblings were left under the custody of their step father. Since then, Joy and her siblings were forced to do the household chores and take care of the needs of their step father. Their school attendance became limited where Joy was allowed to go to school only thrice a week and her siblings only twice.
The time came when Joy’s stepfather started to kiss her. Joy’s innocence considered it as a manifestation of fatherly love but she noticed that it was not what it seemed to be. Through time, this incident became normal for Joy. Her stepfather even gave Joy luxuries in exchange of sexual intercourse. To save herself and her siblings from body pain, Joy kept mum about the situation.
It was in 2013 when Joy’s teacher noticed the bruises on the girl’s face. This led to the discovery of the sexual and physical abuse that the children have been going through. On that same year, Joy was referred to the Regional Haven for Women of Girls (Regional Haven) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the region.
Through the Regional Haven, Joy was able to undergo educational, psychological, social, health, home life, health, economic, recreational, developmental and spiritual services. To help her veer away from the incident, Joy also underwent play therapy which aims to process her emotions and express her thoughts through play. This is a psychotherapeutic tool which also helps the child for stress de-briefing.
Joy was also able to continue her studies while she was housed in the Regional Haven. She successfully finished until the 4th grade during her stay in the center.
Joy is one of the 50 clients who have been discharged from the Regional Haven for the 1st quarter of 2015. Like Joy, these clients have undergone various services to prepare them for re-integration to their families and communities. Aside from these services, the clients of the Regional Haven are being assisted on their court related needs.
“Masaya ako na makakalabas na ako [ sa Regional Haven], pero nalulungkot din. Mamimiis ko ang mga kasama ko, pero masaya ako dahil makakasama ko na uli ang aking pamilya. Excited din akong mag-aral. Gusto kong maging doktor para makatulong ako kahit walang bayad. Kapag naging doctor ako, babalik ako sa [Regional] Haven at tutulungan ko rin ung mga nandito”, Joy shared.
“Malaking bagay na nag-stay siya [Joy] sa Haven. Lumakas ang kanyang kalooban. Mabigat yung sinapit nya, pero sa pamamagitan ng Regional Haven naitaguyod nya yung pisikal at emosyonal na kakayanan nya. Parang walang nangyaring hindi maganda sakanya”, Joy’s guardian said.
“Sa paglabas ko, hindi ko makakalimutan na kahit gaano kabigat ang problema, wag susuko, dahil may mga taong nagmamahal saakin at mayroon akong isang kaibigan na tutulong saakin, si God”, Joy added.
Joy has already been re-integrated to her family and is now living her life equipped with the skills and lessons that the Regional Haven has taught her. The love of her family and friends is now slowly mending the scars of her past and gives Joy the sight of renewed hope for a better life.
For the 2nd quarter of 2015, other 15 residents who are still in the center are provided with continuous rehabilitation and psychosocial services to prepare them for their re-integration in the community.
The Regional Haven for Women and Girls is a temporary shelter managed by the DSWD which caters to disadvantaged, vulnerable, abused, and exploited women and girls needing protective custody and psychosocial care. Services provided to them are geared towards enabling them to recover from traumatic effects of abuses and exploitation, restore their social functioning and regain their self-worth and dignity.# DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva