We all feel fortunate to be born into a family. It is where we start to define ourselves, our world, our values. It lays the foundation of our being, our thinking, our feeling, and becomes our guiding force in life. We all want to belong to a family. It holds great importance in our social life because it provides love and support. Family members are meant to be there for each other, help one another in times of need, and be happy with one another and celebrate success together.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the daily lives of families, especially poor families. How are these families surviving and moving on with their life despite the pandemic?
Mylene, a young wife and mother at 36, has this story to tell on how their family thrives with the health crisis that struck the whole world. She has been married for eight years, and together with her husband, they dream of a bright future for their family. They are blessed with two children, a boy, and a girl, of 7 and 6 years old, respectively. Both are honor students in Grade 1. The parents are proud to tell their neighbors that their 7-year old son is Best in Art in his class. They envision to send them to school and finish college to the best of their determination.
Her husband is a tricycle driver who earns an average of Php300.00 a day. Mylene also works part-time in a church institution earning at least Php700.00 a week. With this income, they are able to sustain their daily needs and even manage to keep little savings for the future of their dream.
When the lockdown was declared, Mylene’s husband was forced to quit driving. Thus the family decided to stay in their small farm in the rural area. There, they started planting vegetables and raised backyard animals, like pigs and chickens. Fortunately, when the quarantine was eased a bit, Mylene was able to continue her part-time work in the church institution. They treasured every help and support they received, both from the government and from generous individuals and groups. They considered them as blessings from God.
When it was announced that schools were still closed until further notice, their two children were sad and anxious because they loved to go to school. They don’t have the internet and could not afford to buy smartphones. The online class was not an option for them. They were resigned to the possibility of skipping school this year. Mylene had to buy some workbooks for them to appease their anxiety. She had to play the role of their “teacher,” and the children would even ask her to wear the teacher’s uniform. When it was time for Mylene to go to work, her husband would take over her role. Both parents tried their best to provide the love and support they could give to their children and keep the family values, especially the value of education and prayer.
When asked how are they thriving with the “new normal” due to the pandemic? Mylene smilingly replies, “By the grace and mercy of God!” She says she puts her trust so much in the Lord. The family never stops praying and keeping their faith in God during this trying time. Her children kept on asking when they can go to church. They badly miss going to church as a family.
Mylene shares that God never abandons them during this crisis. She relates that God gives them a good neighbor, who always sees to it that their needs are provided. This neighbor is so generous and owns the animals they are raising. Mylene considers this neighbor as a blessing from God. Moreover, she is so grateful to God for bringing her family to the rural area and keeping them safe during the pandemic. Her children can freely play around the clean air environment and away from crowded places. They have also experienced a good harvest of the root crops and vegetables from their small garden. They always have food on their table. All these are blessings and graces from God! It’s their faith in a merciful and generous God that keeps them moving on with life despite the pandemic.
“This new normal is bringing us closer together as a family and closer to God,” Mylene says. “Spending time with the family and praying to God is uplifting and empowering.”
Mylene’s family is not alone in turning to their faith to face the storms in life. Many researchers on religion and resilience have looked at religion as an important way to cope with trauma and distress. Research shows that religion can help people cope with difficulty by encouraging them to reframe events through a hopeful lens. It helps them see tragedies in a positive light and be closer to a higher authority.