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Getting away from gambling, getting closer to her family

“Sobra akong nakokonsensya, pero tuloy pa rin ako.”

Liezel Fajardo, 33, narrates that her children go to school just twice in a week as she often had no money to give them for the day.

This situation hurts her; however, Liezel brushes this off.

“Araw-araw akong nasa sugalan. Minsan inaabot pa ako ng magdamag sa sugalan. Sobrang lulong ako sa sugal pero ang hirap iwasan. Pakiramdam ko kasi, dito sa pagsusugal ko, magiging maayos ang buhay namin,” she shared.

For Liezel, what pushed her towards gambling is the kind of life they were experiencing.

The family’s main source of income is fishing, but they do not own a boat. Their maximum income for a day is PhP300.

“Kapag malaki ang dagat, wala kaming kita. Nagiging dahilan ito ng madalas naming pag-aaway na mag-asawa. Wala na kami sa oras kung kumain, at nababaon na kami sa utang. Kahit ang pang-arawaraw naming pagkain ay inaasa na namin sa utang,” she shared.

With her desperation, Liezel learned tong-its. What she thought would save them from their situation only added burden to the whole family.

“Dahil napapabayaan na n’ya ang mga anak namin at natatalo ng minsan 300 piso kada araw, umabot na kami sa punto na sinabi ko sa kanya na kung hindi n’ya ititigil ang pagsusugal n’ya, maghiwalay na lang kami,” shared Nardito, Liezel’s husband.

Today, six years later, Liezel’s family is stronger. Her four children are in school and their life is completely different. Their house, which used to be wobbly and was made of scrap materials, is now a comfortable home with some appliances, electricity supply and own toilet in the coastal barangay of Punta in Padre Burgos town, Quezon Province.

Her turning point

Until today, Liezel cannot hide her gratitude from getting away from her gambling and their old situation.

“Naka-attend ako ng isang FDS kung saan tinalakay ang pagpapahalaga at pagpapabuti ng pamilya at ang mga karapatan ng bata katulad ng pagbibigay sa kanila ng sapat na edukasyon at nutrisyon. Kasama na rito ang pagbibigay sa kanila ng sapat na pagkalinga at pagmamahal ng magulang,” Liezel narrated.

According to her, this was the time she felt she was slapped in the face.

“Natauhan talaga ako. Dito ko napagtanto ang aking pagkakamali. Dito ako nagsimulang tumigil sa pagsusugal,” she shared.

The FDS (or the Family Development Session) is a component of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program that teaches parent-grantees on various topics towards strengthening families. This includes improving marital relationship, children’s rights, budget management and disaster preparedness among others. Attendance to this monthly session is one of the co-responsibilities of beneficiaries to the program along with 85 percent monthly attendance of children to school and monthly preventive health checkup of children.

Liezel’s family became a beneficiary of this program in 2011.

“Nagsimula na akong tumulong sa asawa ko sa paghahanapbuhay, magkasama kaming nagluluto at naglalako ng mga ulam at meryendahin,” she said.

According to Liezel, this helped improve their life not just when it comes to supporting their daily needs and improving their house.

“Kung dating ramdam ko na mas gusto pang kasama ng mga anak ko ang lola nila kaysa sa akin, ngayon, hindi na. Nasusubaybayan ko na sila. Naging mas maayos na rin ang pagsasama naming magasawa,” she shared.

A clearer direction

From the kind of life they had before, Liezel taught that it was impossible to change direction.

“Napatunayan ko ngayon na walang imposible sa taong may pangarap at sa taong gustong magbago,” she shared.

Today, she and her husband continue to work for a common dream—which is to give their children education. And what gives her inspiration is the words of her eldest.

“Sana, tuloy-tuloy na ang ating magandang buhay. Sana, Mama, wag ka na pong magsugal uli,” Liezel shared in tears as she recalls her daughter, Caila, saying this to her.***

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