On certain days, she works as a labandera (laundrywoman) to make ends meet. On other days, she works as a yaya (nanny). On the side, she also runs a little sari-sari store. But when all else fails, she has no choice but to take some merchandise from her sari-sari store just so she can serve something to her family on mealtimes.
For Ritchen, there is nothing more important than serving decent meals to her family. Her sari-sari store can wait, but not the need to ease her family’s hunger pangs.
“Sigurohon lang usa namu ang i-sulod sa among tiyan. I-kunsomo usa namu ang akong ginagmayng tinda. Next time, basin naay grasya, naa nasad koy i-baligya (We make it a priority to have something to eat. Sometimes, we use and consume what I’m selling. Next time, when there’s money, then I will have something to sell again).”
Due to poverty, Ritchen or Chen to her family and friends, has been unable to track how much she actually earns running her sari-sari store. More often than not, she is compelled to use the merchandize she sells for her family’s daily needs.
“Usahay, gamay nalang kaayo ang mahabilin sa akong display labi na ug magamitan naku ug pa-ngumonsumo. Usahay i-sira gyud naku ang tindahan. Unya kung dunay kwartang gamay, ablihan nasad naku ug balik (At times, there’s little left in my sari-sari store especially when we get something from it for food. Sometimes, the store is closed. If I have the money, then I open it again),” said Chen, 36 and a mother of three.
“Lisud kaayo ang kinabuhi. Mao nang mang-sideline ko. Dili man gyud pa-igu ang kita sa akong tindahan, mao nang manglabada ko. Usahay pud mobantay ko ug bata para lang gyud naa koy ika-puno para pang-gasto sa balay (Life is difficult. I maintain my sideline jobs since what I earn from my sari-sari store is not enough. Sometimes, I get paid doing laundry and sometimes, I get paid as a nanny. I do this just to be able to pay for our living expenses),” she explained.
Chen even grows her own vegetables to be able to save a little and not spend too much on food. “Mahal na gyud kaayo ang mga palaliton karon. Unya dili ko maka-salig pud sa kita sa akong bana sa iyang pagpamakyaw ug panit ug manga (Everything is so expensive. I cannot also rely on the income that my husband is earning from doing manual mango peeling under a pakyaw system),” Chen added.
Her husband, a factory worker, who earns around Php5,000.00 every 15th of the month on good days and Php1,000.00 to Php2,000.00 on other days, helps her raise their children, all of whom attend school.
Seeing the family’s struggle financial challenges, her two sons aged 16 and 15, had no choice but to do their share in coping with the family’s financial difficulties.
“Tungod sa kalisud, ang akong duha ka anak lalaki manghakot ug ginalon nga mineral water sa water refilling station sa among area. Ila pud intawn nga i-intrigo naku ang ilang kita kada adlaw (Since we’ve been struggling financially, my two sons decided to help to be able to earn by transporting gallons of mineral water from a water refilling station in our area. Then they also give me a portion of what they earn from it),” she continued sharing.
Chen’s children were included in the list of DOLE-7’s profiling of child labor cases conducted in Barangay Alang-Alang, Mandaue City.
If it were up to her, Chen said she wished her children would not have to work and would just concentrate on their studies. “Murag matuman na gyud akong wish kay na-apil manko sa makadawat ug financial assistance gikan sa DOLE (My wish would finally come true since I’m one of those who will receive financial assistance from DOLE),” she beamed.
As Chen is one of the parents of the profiled child laborers in Barangay Alang-Alang, she was given a livelihood starter kit (LSK) by DOLE-7.
In coordination with the local government unit of Barangay Alang-Alang, Undersecretary and DOLE-7 Concurrent Head, Victor Del Rosario released last May 1, Labor Day, over Php633,000.00 to the beneficiaries.
Chen, just like the rest, will receive around Php15,000.00 to Php25,000.00, which will help fund their individual enterprise.
“Ako gihapong ipadayon ang akong sari-sari store. Unya daku ko ug pagsalig nga dili nani magsige ug ka-sira kay naa naman koy igung puhunan (I will continue selling with my sari-sari store and I’m now confident that it will not be closed anymore since I will have enough capital to sustain it),” an excited Chen said.
The assistance extended to her was born out of the Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA), a project of the Department of Labor and Employment, which aims to contribute to the prevention and elimination of child labor by providing families of child laborers access to decent livelihood opportunities for enhanced income.
“Wala gyud ko magdahum nga maapil ko ani. First time gyud ni naku nga maka-dawat aning tabang gikan sa DOLE. Daku kaayo akong kalipay oi (I never imagined that I will be part of this wonderful news. This is my first time to receive help from DOLE. I’m overjoyed),” she added.
Chen and the rest of beneficiaries hopes to get their respective livelihood projects operational as they will be provided with tools, materials and jigs that they need for their depending on their business requirements.
“Nangandam naku karon. Lipay kaayo ko. Palambu-on gyud naku ning akong tindahan. Daku kaayo ni ug tabang namu. Salamat sa Ginoo ug sa DOLE nga naapil ko ani. Dili na gyud mo-apil ug pagpanghakot ug ginalon nga mineral water ang akong mga anak (I’m now preparing myself for my business. I promise to take care of it because it is such a big help for us. My sons will now be spared from working and carrying gallons of mineral water),” she added.