When Reynante’s wife couldn’t attend classes through Compassion’s Survival Program to learn about caring for their infant twins, he took on the task, becoming the only father in a class full of mothers.
Compassion’s Survival Program activities are designed to educate, train and support mothers to properly care for their babies during the crucial first months of life. Survival lessons for the new parents include literacy, proper health and hygiene, and effective breastfeeding — classes that are typically only attended by mothers. At a Compassion center in the Philippines, Reynante stands out as the only father in the class.
Reynante is a patient and hardworking father who attends classes with his twin daughters because his wife, Elviera, had polio at a young age and cannot stand or walk more than five steps without help.
“It is difficult for me to walk or move around,” Elviera says, “which is why it is my husband who goes to the center. I am thankful that my husband continues to work hard and remains patient in taking care of me and our children.”
Elviera has not been trained to walk with crutches since she can’t afford them, but soon she’ll be spending a lot of time practicing as Compassion’s Survival Program is purchasing a pair from a larger city, four hours away by boat. In the meantime, she is still able to learn through the Survival Program when staff visit the family’s home.
When Reynante is not attending Survival Program classes with his daughters, he drives a bicycle rickshaw, or “pedicab,” sometimes for almost 10 hours straight to provide for his family. He also works as a fisherman or carpenter when his family needs extra income.
“I can’t just stand still and not work or else my family will starve,” Reynante says. “The only times I don’t work are when I am at our classes and Sunday worship. From time to time, my wife and I don’t have food to eat, but we’re fine with that as long as our children have food.”
Ever since the twins were old enough to be carried, Reynante has never been absent from Survival Program classes.
“I am learning many things and having fun with the mothers,” Reynante says. “I don’t mind being the odd one. I don’t mind if I need to look away when it’s time for the mothers to breastfeed. I just focus on being with my daughters because I know this program will help and support them as they grow up. I don’t mind being the ‘mother’ for the sake of my children. I am very grateful.”
When they grow up, Reynante and Elviera hope their twins have stable jobs — possibly as teachers — so “they won’t experience the hard life that we are experiencing today.”
Families like Reynante and Elviera’s are helped in every way through supporters of Compassion’s Survival Program. To learn more about the Survival Program, please click here.