“Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore.”
When I was a kid I always loved the story of Moses in the bullrushes: the little baby cast into the Nile by his mother in the hope of saving his life; watched from afar by his sister until he was found by a royal princess; the story turning back then to his mother, eventually paid to nurse and take care of her own child.
I think about the story of Moses a lot in relation to Jerry, and try as much as possible for Jerry to have a real connection with his brothers and sisters. The most recent addition to Jerry’s story is one of Jerry’s half-brothers, Kuya Ryan. Please note the word ‘kuya’ (coo-ya) is a term of endearment and respect for an elder brother. Jerry hasn’t known much about his brother Ryan until very recently.
Jerry’s Kuya Ryan is a twin and those brothers had a different father to Jerry. Sadly that man died when Ryan and his twin were little babies and they were separated and given away. I think Ryan must have been about 10 when his (and Jerry’s) mother died as well.
From what I have learned Ryan never had the opportunity to go to school and began working on fishing boats at a very early age. Working on fishing boats is hard, physical work and you are away from your family for long periods of time. Plus your pay is directly related to how many fish you catch. Imagine how hard it is for the fisherman of the Philippines, working in tiny bamboo boats for a pittance. I was so happy to learn that a few weeks ago Ryan began renting a tricycle everyday to try and make a living as a driver.
If you haven’t been to the Philippines or been here on my blog before, a tricycle is basically a motorbike with a side-car. The side-car is a steel frame attachment and enables the driver to carry an extra 4 passengers (though if you check the photo below you’ll see a tricycle carrying 11 passengers and that’s not counting the driver).
So the whole point of this little story really is that Jerry now rides to school every day with his brother. It’s a wonderful thing for Jerry to see his brother every day and for us to be able to pay him a small salary. At the same time Ryan has the chance to watch over the safety of his little brother.
When Jerry goes to school at 7am every morning I usually walk down to the road and hail a passing tricycle. You always worry about putting a little boy in an open vehicle with a stranger. Especially when kidnappings and motor vehicle accidents are so prevalent in this country. Then at 11.30am Jerry rides a tricycle home for lunch, returning again to school at 1pm. Finally at 4.00-4.15pm Jerry’s class ends and he rides home for the day.
Last year I was riding with Jerry every trip, but this year now I’m working again I just don’t have the time. What a blessing that his own brother can take him to school.
As much as I love Jerry and as much as he loves me, Jerry needs to know his real family. Imagine being a little boy and wishing so much your mother was still alive but at the same time knowing that if she was his Tita Mel wouldn’t be part of his life. How does a child of nine (or anyone for that matter) reconcile those feelings?
Sometimes people say to me ‘oh Jerry is so lucky to have you’ but really he isn’t. If Jerry were truly lucky his parents would both be alive, his house would never have been destroyed in a typhoon and his brother would not be trying to feed his family on less than $5 a day.
© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine