Marpha looks at the picture of her dead husband, Juno, on the wall, and recalls the day of his death.”It was March 8, seven years ago, he was shot dead in Manila. He left us and joined a gang involved in robbery and drugs, and was killed along with three others by police.”
Marpha Himpesao was seven months pregnant with her youngest child, Jomar, at the time of her husband’s death. Jomar, now seven years old, is deaf. Another son, Juno who is nine years old is and is partially blind. Marpha is forty years old, and she has five children, three boys and two girls. The other three children are healthy.
We are sitting in her “home,” a tiny, ramshackle upstairs room. She points to the wooden floor. “This is where we sleep and eat; we cook in the corner.”There are no windows in the room, just an empty space in place of a window “When it rains everything gets wet.”There is no running water, no toilet. Beside her is an old sewing machine and a pile of secondhand clothes to mend. “I bought the machine for 800 pesos (U.S. approximately $20) some years ago. Sometimes I can earn 150 pesos (U.S. $4) a day.”
Her two sons Jomar and Juno have started attending the school for children with special needs. Marpha is pleased they are going to school where they will be with the other deaf children instead of roaming the streets. “I cannot look after them as I should,” she says, close to tears.
“For the children, for the sake of the children I work,” she says to me, as she turns back to her sewing machine. Like Marpha and her children, there are many other families living in similar conditions in this city. Like Marpha every day they struggle to provide for their children.
Provided by Fr. Oliver McCrossan following a conversation with Marpha Himpesao in Ozamiz City, the Philippines. Fr. McCrossan lives and works with the poor in the Philippines.