(a Cebuano term for license, a permission to act, a consent for an activity to take place, a freedom of action)

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans, I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I am Arcelie Brigole, RSW. I am 25 years old. I graduated from Lourdes College with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Social Work. I am now a Registered Social Worker and currently working at City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) in Cagayan de Oro City.

I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation (CCF) in 2008. I stayed there for 4 years.I was born out of wedlock. Since I was conceived out of sexual molestation, there were those that were not really happy to accept me. However, my mother stood firm with her decision to give birth to me. She fought for me and loved me unconditionally.

I have 6 half siblings, and I, as the seventh, am the youngest. My mother became a solo parent with 7 her children. She nurtured and raised us well despite the inadequacies in our family. Though my mother experienced maltreatment, abuse, and other bitter experiences from her previous husbands including my biological father, she did not think of giving up nor abandoning us. She is a mother who is willing to risk her life just to protect and provide for her children.

To sustain our needs, my mother used to sell “kakanin,” and did laundry for our neighbors. I and my half sisters and brothers learned to do some works like “magdaro sa uma” and “magbasok sa silingan.” We also experienced cutting firewood to sell it to earn extra income. Our priority was to at least buy rice.

I remember how my mother used to give us milk that was made of pure sugar. We experienced to have a viand like salt, sugar, “sanaw sa ginamos,” “ulo sa bulad,” or anything that could add some flavor to the rice and fill our empty stomachs. One day, I tried to ask my mother something about my father. I wished to hear a story about my father or at least see his picture. She refused to share and scolded me. She told me not to talk about my father anymore.

That time, I could feel how much hatred my mother bore against my father. Even my other siblings also shared the same grudge. For that reason, I strove to never bring up again the topic about my father in their presence. In the long run, I began to understand those things. My mother was active in our small chapel in our community. She was elected as the president while I became a catechist. I taught children during Flores de Mayo in our community. The experience helped me a lot to be God-fearing just like the way my mother taught and disciplined me.

One day, when our parish priest visited our chapel, my mother sought his advice about what to do with my cousin who was addicted to vices that time. Fr. Nonong suggested that the best thing to do was to refer my cousin to a Calabrian priest for rehabilitation.

At that time, my mother was also worried that she could not send me to school after elementary due to inaccessibility to any secondary school. She tried again to coordinate to Fr. Nonong, hoping that he could help me. Fortunately, my mother was referred to the superior of Calabrian Children’s Foundation, Fr. Luciano and the social worker, Ate Yolly. They were able to assist me and visit our place. In the end, I was accepted to their institution.

Even if it was a hard for me to adjust and be separated from my mother for the very first time, I was still willing to take those offered opportunities because I dreamt of finishing my studies, get a better job, and give my mother a better future.

It took time for me to adjust in the community of Calabrian Children’s Foundation – Girls Community. However, the foundation gradually molded me to become a better person. They gave me shelter, food, medical health care, and love. They gave spiritual activities to strengthen my faith in God. They taught me values formation and proper hygiene. They provided recreational activities to enhance my skills. Above of all, they sent me to school with all their efforts and support.

Obeying the rules and regulations while in the center was not hard for me to follow because I had a goal and purpose in life. The foundation even helped me process my past experiences and I was able to embrace and accept all the pain, hatred, and bitterness in life through counseling. The administration in CCF, including the priests, brothers, and staffs were a great providence. They were indeed an instrument for me to pursue my dreams in life. I was lucky to have them who helped me to become the person that I am today.

Indeed, I am so grateful to St. John Calabria for founding this charitable institution run by the Calabrian missionaries who heartily offer opportunities especially for underprivileged children by sending them to school.

In the year 2012, I continued my stay with the Calabrian Sisters’ community at Brgy. Carmen, CDO. I stayed with the Sisters for 7 years until I finished my college degree, passed the board exam, and finally landed a job. Sr. Luciane de Cesaro and the rest of the community accepted and treated me as their own daughter. They helped me to fulfill my dreams in life. They supported me in my chosen degree program. They trusted me and paid my tuition fee on time, bought my books, uniforms, and everything else I needed.

When I was in the convent, the sisters really showed their love. They were the ones who cooked for my meal and always had available food in the kitchen anytime. I felt that I was on my own home and family. Sr. Luciane always ensured that I ate properly before I went to school.

I remember and could not forget how Sr. Luciane was worried when one time, it was already 10 PM, and I did not yet arrive at home due to our research defense presentation. She suddenly arrived in Lourdes College and I was so shocked that she already talked to our dean on why they let the students come home late in the evening. That time, I felt the motherly care and love from my second mother, Sr. Luciane.During my board exam, the sisters and the rest of the Calabrian missionaries were my prayer warriors.

I could not imagine that I surpassed those difficulties in life. I could never be more grateful to God for giving me the Calabrian family, a great instrument of His Providence.

I learned that everything that happened to me happened in purpose. Instead of locking myself up in the cage of fears, revenge, heartaches, embarrassment, and failures, I treated them as teachers. They became my tool in both self-improvement and success.Time flew so fast and now, I am already a Registered Social Worker, a public servant who help vulnerable individual, families, and communities to uplift their living condition here in Cagayan de Oro City.

My message to the CCF children:

Dreaming isn’t always the easiest task to accomplish, especially if they may seem to be unreachable. However, if one is motivated and willing to work for it, they can be achieved. So don’t waste the opportunity that is already on your way. Have a goal and seek your purpose in life. Follow your dreams and do hard work. Know that your hard work is a license that paves the way to success. With hard work and perseverance, dreams do come true and expectation becomes a reality.

In addition, be patient! Be humble! Keep moving forward and know that all the hardwork you’re putting in, day in and day out will produce the results you’ve been looking for.

Do not give up and HAVE FAITH IN GOD. God won’t give you anything that you can’t handle.