Ms. Helen D. Mabanta is a mother of five. With her meager income from her small backyard farm and her husband, Rolando’s income from working for the Cash-For-Work program of the Department of Public Works and Highways, they have tried providing their kids their basic needs, especially with their educational necessities.

The couple is proudest of their achievements, especially that with their little income, they have endured sending all children to school. Their eldest son, Helkent, was able to graduate as a caregiver from UHA Caregiver Training Center. Their eldest daughter, Helqueen, is currently taking up Criminology at Iligan Capitol College.

Their three other children, Hero King, 4th year student at the Marcela T. Mabanta Memorial National High School, Hero Kris, 1st year, also from MTMM NHS, and Heart Queencess, grade 3 from Libertad Elementary School are all covered by the 4Ps. A thing that the couple says is a “breath of fresh air” for them since the program gets to shoulder the expenses for their schooling.

At first, the family was very glad that they get to be part of the Pantawid Pamilya program. Helen attests that the program not only helped them financially, but also helped them to be better parents, especially with the Family Development Sessions (FDS) they have.

“Through the FDs, my husband and I have learned a lot, especially with improvements we need to raise a better family.  I know it is required of us to take part of the sessions but later on, we saw it as something important, and whether it was not a requirement, I would definitely still participate,” Ms. Helen said.

With the learning they had with the FDS, Ms. Helen immediately ensured that their family capitalized on it.  She and her children then started to build a backyard garden, since one of the sessions they had was with self-sufficiency. The backyard garden, later on, awarded as Best Backyard Garden for their Barangay Libertad during their town fiesta in 2012.

It was also in 2012 that the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, (managed by the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) was implemented in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

“Not in a hundred years would I ever imagine having to win an award all because I have taken care of my family. Through the programs of DSWD, my family and our community has gained a lot of ground in our fight against poverty.  Pantawid took care of our expenses for our children’s schooling and health. And through Kalahi-CIDSS, I have learned to trust myself because now I am confident to face other people and be part of an activity and accept responsibilities in running something, as what I have gone through with Kalahi-CIDSS.  Kalahi-CIDSS has indeed molded me into a leader and taught me to face responsibilities with confidence,” Ms. Mabanta shared.

Ms. Helen also shared that it is not only through Pantawid Pamilya that her children have benefited from the DSWD. She said that her youngest child has also been a recipient of the Supplementary Feeding Program of the Department. The DSWD monitors the standard of Day Care Center operations in all the barangays in Kauswagan (including Brgy. Libertad, where the Mabanta Family are from) and complements the Supplementary Feeding Program of the local government unit. 640 day care students have been served for this year alone.

Aside from the Tatsulo Program or the three Anti-Poverty flagship programs of the Department, the DSWD has also strengthened the implementation/operation and management of the other programs of the department all over the region. In Kauswagan, the people in the municipality has also been well taken-care off with the Social Protection Programs of the Department.

Written by: Marko Davey D. Reyes – Social Marketing Officer (Kalahi-CIDSS)