Lisod kaayo nga mahimong pobre, pero kon wala tay buhaton sa atong kapobrehon magpabilin gayud ang atong pamilya nga walay asenso (Being poor is very hard, but if we don’t do anything, our family will remain poor),” Rizza Francisco said.

The Francisco family (L-R: Ronald, Ronald II, Reina Joy, Baby Sofia Reinn, and Rizza).

Rizza and Ronald Francisco, a married couple from the town of San Jose in Negros Oriental, earned a living by selling fish in the market. Both are responsible parents who work hard to provide for their children. Yet they faced challenges early on in their married life.

Nagtinabangay kami sa akong bana sa pagbaligya og isda kada adlaw para makakaon ang among duha kaanak (We helped each other in selling fish every day so that we could provide food to our two children),” said Rizza.

Though embarrassed, Rizza admitted that she and her husband once struggled with vices such as gambling, smoking, and drinking until a born-again Christian pastor did a house-to-house visit.

The preaching they received awakened and motivated them to stay away from the vices they had been doing. Their newfound faith helped them transform their lives for the better, and by following God’s commands, they could focus all their efforts on their children.

The struggle did not end there since providing for the basic daily necessities, such as food and school supplies, is a never-ending challenge. If their faith in God helped them overcome their vices, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) helped them overcome their financial difficulties.

In December 2011, the Francisco family became one of the beneficiaries of 4Ps in San Jose, a flagship program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that offers conditional cash grants to enhance health, nutrition, and education for qualified poor households.

At that time, their eldest child, Reina Joy, was nine (9) years old, and the younger one, Ronald II, was seven (7).

Since becoming part of the program, the Francisco family has improved their living conditions. The cash grants they received helped them financially to support their children’s educational and health needs. With financial help from the government, they were able to use their income to gradually expand their business of buying and selling fish.

Furthermore, through their consistent participation in the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS), one of the requirements of the 4Ps, Rizza gained knowledge that helped her manage herself and her family. The lessons learned in every FDS supported the Christian teaching they had received and made it a guiding light in their daily lives.

FDS topics such as financial literacy, health and nutrition, gender, and development helped their family and strengthened their ties with their neighbors and the rest of their community.

As self-employed fish vendors with a combined estimated monthly income of Php 30,000.00, they became known suppliers in their local market.

Subsequently, the family bought a cargo truck and supplied fish to San Jose Public Market and the nearby municipalities.

Self-sufficient level

The Francisco family joined the Perpetual Help Credit Cooperative Inc., which grants members loans and savings, helping them manage their finances effectively.

With this membership and all their endeavors, the Francisco family gained a Level 3 or self-sufficiency level after the Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI) conducted by the 4Ps Municipal Link. The family gained a total SWDI score of 2.92269, indicating they can meet their basic needs and maintain financial stability.

Rizza Francisco sells fish in the market.

The family is among the first batch graduates in San Jose, and all attended the 4Ps Saulog ceremonial graduation held on March 26, 2024.

Rizza is grateful to the agency. “DSWD, nakahaw-as kami sa kapobrehon tungod sa inyong tabang. Ang Ginoo, magpanalangin sa DSWD kanunay (DSWD, we are able to overcome poverty because of your help; God bless you always),” said Rizza.

Rizza is committed to extending help to those in need and sharing the blessings they receive from God. She aims to make a positive impact and help spread the good news of God’s grace to the community so that love, respect, and mercy may thrive.

The youngest child, Ronald II, is in Grade 11 at San Jose Provincial High School. Meanwhile, the eldest, Reina Joy, had graduated from senior high school. They also welcomed a new member to their family, a beautiful baby girl named Sofia Reinn Markiesha, the daughter of Reina Joy, who also plans to pursue her college degree later.

As the saying goes, do your best, and God will do the rest. The transformation of the Francisco family shows that with God’s grace and a willing heart, you will achieve your heart’s desire and change your life for the better. ###

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