Livelihood for a Filipino widow


Ronnie, the man in the photo, died the day I landed back in the Philippines just over a week ago. I went to visit him and check on his family but was greeted by his wife and his body lying in a coffin under a tarpaulin and four pieces of bamboo; Typhoon Ruby less than twenty-four (24) hours away.

Before taking Ronnie back to hospital. TB and cancer.
Before taking Ronnie back to hospital. TB and cancer.

I had transported him to hospital some months earlier but the treatment was too expensive and had to be discontinued. He had fallen ill during the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, his health deteriorating following the fumes and discharge from the oil spill of Powerbarge 103.

He leaves behind a young wife and seven (7) children.

Before Typhoon Yolanda this family of eight (8) had a good life. The father was a strong man and a dedicated provider for his family. He worked hard until devestated by illness. Unable to provide, his familly has living on gifts of rice and vegetables from a local women’s community group.

maricel-yolanda-victimHis wife Maricel is in her early 30s and has no paid work. She has been asking more affluent Filipinos for work washing clothes, cooking and cleaning. So with no paid work she spends her time cooking annd volunteering at a community centre in return for food and drinking water. She is a proud woman and wishes to work and care for her children and elderly mother. The day I returned to Estancia, Maricel was attending to the burial arrangements of her husband while the rest of the province was preparing to evacuate their families.

Thanks to donations from family and friends in Australia, I was able to relocate here seven (7) children and her mother to a boarding house with a sturdy roof. She hated taking money and gifts of food but I hugged her and told her that she had many friends in Australia who wanted to help her and she must not be embarrassed. We walked to the market together in pouring rain and I literally had to force food into her shopping basket because she was so ashamed to put it there herself.

[I shot the video below in March 2014 and later that day transported Ronnie to hospital. I used money sent by family and friends to buy food and drinking water for them.]

I returned after the Typhoon to find that she had spent the entire storm in the bamboo shelter with her husband’s body, her mother had looked after the children at the boarding house.

To help Marical, my friend and gifted school teacher Ma’am Jing Buayan offered to teach Marical to crochet and how to make these designs. Jing, a single mother of two beautiful sons, lost her own house in Typhoon Yolanda and spends her spare time crocheting these designs and selling in the market and even overseas. Despite me offering to pay her to train Marical she refused … it is my responsibility to help my countrymen was her reply.

Marical was really excited when I showed her one of cell phone pouches Ma’am Jing had designed, telling me she could already crochet. Yesterday I went to the market in Iloilo and bought 24 balls of crochet yarn for Marical to begin her own business. It will be delivered to Marical on Saturday when she will begin her lessons with Ma’am Jing.

This is a guaranteed weekly income for a woman with such a large family. If you want to help get in contact with me, you could help in the following ways:-

  • post a gift of crochet yarn and/or number 7 crochet hooks
  • buy a purse, pouch or phone holder
  • send a gift of money to buy food and clothing for the family
  • become an ongoing sponsor of this family to help get those kids through school

Please contact me on or use the contact page to find out more. Thanks for listening, reading and just taking an interest.

notes on maricel

Donations can be made by Depositing to this dedicated bank account.

Bank: ME Bank
BSB: 944600
Account Number: 000153372
Name: Melinda J Irvine

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