Here are details of the latest project we are supporting:
Mary Joy Tortogo.
Romel Tortogo Sr. died from colon cancer in October last year; he was only 40 years old. He underwent surgery in late September for the removal of obstructive lumps in his intestine; but 10 days after the surgery, he died. Sadly while he was fading away, his wife Mary Joy (49) was brought to a hospital suffering from terrible allergies so it was Romel’s own mother and siblings who looked after him. In the early hours of October 9th he quietly passed away in his parents’ home in Concepcion in Talisay.
It was in February last year that Romel started to be bothered by stomach pain. The following month, when the pain worsened, Mary Joy decided to seek medical help. Unfortunately the province went on a lockdown and face-to-face medical consultations were not possible. He finally had an ultra sound in May which revealed nothing and then in August he had a CT scan, the result of which showed he had colon cancer.
When he was still alive, Romel worked in the sugarcane plantations to support his family. During the off-season, he would make charcoal or slice bamboo for sale. He was an industrious man and he lived a generally contented and happy life with his family.
Thankfully Mary Joy his wife has a job; she works in an orchard owned by a well-to-do family in the next barangay. She works four hours a day, from 8 to 10 AM and 1 to 3 PM – weeding, clearing, and raking up dried leaves. She is paid 200 pesos (€3.50) per day; on a no-work no-pay basis. The orchard is about a kilometre away from home, a 20-minute walk. She brings a packed lunch (usually rice and fish) with her so that she can eat and rest in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest.
Romel and Mary Joy had three children: Maria Lenny (15), Romel Jr. (13) and Ronel (7). Romel Jr. unfortunately suffers from an uncommon blood disorder – Pure Red Cell Aplasia. This is a type of anemia in which the bone marrow ceases to produce red blood cells. Romel Jr. has to receive blood transfusions every month to treat this condition. PSHF is helping with funds for blood donor fees.
Romel Sr. was buried last year with donations from friends, relatives and local government officials. Mary Joy however had to borrow 5,000 pesos (€90) in order to pay the funeral company in full. She has not been able to pay back this loan because her present earnings are just enough to meet her family’s basic needs.
The PSHF would like to help this poor widow by giving her a grant of 9,000 pesos, of which 5,000 pesos will be used to pay back her loan. The remaining 4,000 pesos will enable her to expand her cooking project. Aside from her job at the orchard, Mary Joy also cooks snacks such as ‘bijon’ and cheese sticks for sale. She cooks these in the morning before leaving for the orchard. She is keen to have a proper shop as well as cooking paraphernalia. Presently she sells from a small shed where she hangs her laundry; when it rains, the water comes in. So the rest of the grant – 4,000 pesos will be used for the following; 2,000 pesos to buy building materials and to pay a carpenter; 1,000 pesos to buy a portable stove and a small table and 1,000 pesos to buy sufficient supplies of street food items such as fish balls (fish-flavoured ball shaped patties) and tempura. By expanding her snacks business, Mary Joy believes she will be able to earn an extra 1,000 pesos (€18) per week. Her daughter Maria Lenny can do the food preparation when her mother is at work in the orchard. Mary Joy is most grateful for this much needed assistance.