One Square Meal

One Square Meal

By: Edwin Estioko, Philippines Communications Specialist   |   Posted: June 10, 2005

Emmanuel, in center, standing with his family in the doorway of their home.

For mothers who struggle with crushing poverty, the dreams they have for their children often revolve around simple things - like survival. That's the case for Maria in the Philippines, whose dream for her four children is that they have one square meal a day. In their crowded village, a square meal consists of one cup of rice, meat or fish, and vegetables. For many months, the family has subsisted on rice and salt or occasionally a little coffee.

Maria's husband, Pedrito, works hard as a pedicab driver, but the income is uncertain and never enough. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), the poverty threshold in the Philippines is $211 annual income. Pedrito would need to make four times his current income just to be counted poor by Filipino standards. 

Their situation has not always been this bleak. Pedrito previously worked as a machinist for a packing factory. He packed boxes of garlic, onions and spices, and earned slightly under minimum wage. When the factory closed three years ago, Pedrito lost his job. 

Maria was therefore overjoyed when her seven-year-old son Emmanuel was registered with the Compassion project in the community. Given opportunities the Compassion project affords, Emmanuel now enjoys writing and reading books in English. Emmanuel loves to study and doesn't mind walking two and one-half miles to school every day. He is in the second grade and wants to be a policeman when he grows up so he can apprehend criminals and drug addicts. He is also grateful for the meals he receives at the project center.

Seeing the difference the Compassion program has made in Emmanuel's life, Maria is praying that her son Rodel might also qualify for registration with the project. She wants to see her children learn, excel and have at least one square meal a day.

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