Jethro attends the child development center every Saturday with more than 200 other children. They sing the same songs, dance to the same music, listen to the same lessons, eat the same foods and enjoy the same activities.
At the end of the day, however, there is a difference. While most of the children are fetched by their mothers, Jethro is picked up by his father.
Jethro loves making the 15-minute walk home with his father, Joseph!
“I enjoy hanging out with him. He is a good role model for me.”
A father picking up his son from the student center and mingling with the mothers and center staff is a rarity. Lanie, center director tells us,
“We really admire Joseph. He not only fetches his son, he also attends parent meetings and church activities. He is just one of the two fathers who regularly come to the center and make friends with everybody.”
Fillipino society is widely matriarchal, according to most experts. Many deny this, but it is the mothers who usually make major decisions, budget the family money, spend time with the children and take them to church.
This is also why, in most cases, churches in the Philippines have mostly female attendees. Men are expected to work and earn money for the family, not go to church or take care of the children. But Joseph is not the typical Filipino father.
“I want to see my children grow. I want to spend time with them and be with them as they try to understand life.”
To have more time at home with his children, Joseph opened a small variety store as a means of providing for his family. It is from this tiny store he earns a meager income to feed his wife and two kids.
“My store earns enough so that we can eat the next day.”
He sells canned foods, chips, salt, pepper, soda and other items for loose change. When the earnings aren’t enough, he looks for other ways to earn money. Sometimes, he assists barbers and welders, work that earns little money.
Joseph has potential. He can cook, sing and write music.
“But I am too shy to let people hear me sing. I only sing at home, when no one is around. I feel that I missed so many opportunities because I am now 39 years old, and not qualified for any professional career.”
Today, Joseph has simple dreams in life. He hopes that his son, Jethro, will be like him and unlike him at the same time. He explains that he doesn’t want Jethro to be like the other boys in their neighborhood.
“I see the children here cursing, stealing, fighting, smoking and getting into drugs. I have not been like that and I hope that my son will not be like that as well.”
The hard-working father was quick to also tell us that he doesn’t want his son to miss the opportunities in life that he did.
Partnering with 330 churches scattered over the Philippines, we minister to more than 50,000 children. Each child is given the opportunities in life that Joseph missed when he was growing up, and which he hopes his son will have.
Jethro comes to the center every Saturday and takes part in all of the activities. He enjoys the singing, but his favorite part of the day is listening to Bible stories just before lunch. He also loves the afternoon playtime before his father picks him up and it’s time to go home.