Every once in a while, we go through difficulties that either makes us stronger or drags us down. We hope for a positive outcome every time, learn from the troubles that we face and come out a better person. Hope is the stoutest trait we can have because no matter what complications life throws at you, you always believe that there is way to succeed.

Faith (not her real name) always had the strongest of traits from a very young age– hope. She never got to see her father because her parents separated before she was born but that didn’t stop her from hoping for better days. She always had the enthusiasm to excel in school and to help her family in every way that she can. She always believed that if she hoped for the best and study as hard as she could, maybe things will look up and maybe, just maybe, she can get to see her father again.

Not long after her parents separated, her mother began to live with another man. The couple had a child, Faith’s younger half-sister. Faith and her step-sister always had the best relationship and the former always treated her like a real sister. They would often play and do chores together.

The first few years of living with her new father were great. She was treated like her step-father’s own child and she always got the treatment that she deserved. She thought finally she had the father she always longed for. She thought finally her family is complete.

Then the closeness that she established with her new father changed into something different. Her step-father’s loving quality turned into predatory lure. Her father forced himself on her, and sadly her mother assisted in the abuse. The abuse continued for a year as she was helpless to try and ask for help. She also got threats from her step-father and mother that if she ever tells what is going on to anyone, bad things may happen to her.

But Faith finally summoned enough courage to tell her grandmother about what has been happening and the latter filed a complaint to the police to investigate the veracity of the statement made by Faith. Soon enough a case was filed against her step-father and mother for the error that they committed.

Faith on the other hand, devastated by what has happened to her and the fact that her mother assisted in the abuse, was admitted to the Regional Haven for Women and Girls here in the region. The staffs of the center welcomed her with open arms and thus start the road to recovery.

Faith started having distant learning so as to cater to her being in the center and kept herself busy with the requirements of the school. Two years after the incident, she enrolled in college, got herself a safe dormitory with the assistance of the center and finally was able to focus on her education without thinking of anything else.

During weekends she would go back to the Haven where she got valuable education from the staff working there. She even got to learn technical skills as TESDA organized a workshop to hone the practical skills of the people living in the center.

Despite numerous court appearances that were tiring and stressful in nature, Faith held her composure and kept the hope alive that she can get through these challenges and come out a better person. Faith focused on participating in the center’s activities particularly on exercises to develop self-expression. She even got to participate in trips organized by the haven to serve as rest and recreation and for spiritual enhancement too.

Faith always displayed enthusiasm towards others in the center and younger people would often call her “ate” because of how active she was towards leading her fellow younger residents. She did well in college as evidenced by her good grades and was even appointed by her teachers to lead her class in activities and group projects. In between, she got visits from her grandmother, step-sister and nephews who assured her that God never gives her challenges that she cannot overcome. Faith paid close attention to these and she made it a point to believe and live by this principle.

Faith spent Christmas vacations in the center which made her closer to her fellow occupants and center staffs. Despite being away from her family, immediate family members would often visit especially on occasions like her birthdays. Through all of these, she developed a brighter perspective of what is to come and her hope for a better tomorrow became stronger. She even joked her lola, being a sew maker, that she needs to have her school uniforms repaired so as to fit her leaner frame because of the stress of school and its various requirements and projects. She explained to her family that she is happy with the intervention-education that the center provides and that she feels that she is becoming more ready to go back to the arms of her grandmother after her stay in the center.

Faith continued to shine in school and she was later released into the custody of her grandmother. She claimed that she can now live independently with the help of the center. Moreover, she has learned to not let her past dictate how she shapes her future. She now believes that what happened to her was the turning point that led her to achieve greater things and reach greater heights.

The Regional Haven for Women and Girls provides temporary shelter and protective custody to women who are victims of involuntary or forced prostitution, illegal recruitment, battered/abused women, victims of sexual abuse, women in detention, women victims of armed conflicts and others. Services provided to them are aimed to enable them to recover from the traumatic effects of abuses and exploitation, re-establish their social functioning and regain their self-worth and dignity. ### By: Chester Carlo M. Trinidad, Admin. Asst. III, Listahanan Information Officer