Most of the caregivers in Compassion’s Child Survival Program are mothers, but Compassion also comes alongside fathers who are raising their children alone.
“I want to be a father and a mother for my children. I will take this responsibility for as long as I live in the world,” says Lerry.
Lerry is the father of Revando, a 2-year-old boy in the Child Survival Program in East Indonesia. He is also the father of Alvino, a 6-year-old boy in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program. Lerry’s wife, Olva, passed away a year and a half ago after a long illness.
Originally, Olva was in the Child Survival Program, but by the time Revando was eight months old, she was too sick to attend. “I never expected that my wife would leave me and my children forever. I imagined that her condition would be normal again, but I was wrong; God had another plan,” says Lerry.
Since the death of his wife, Lerry’s workload has doubled. He cooks, cleans, washes dishes and does the laundry. His day starts at 6:00, making breakfast for his kids, bathing them and getting Alvino ready for school. Then he takes Revando with him to his workplace and works for four hours. At noon, he goes home to make lunch and give his boys a nap.
As a self-employed carpenter, Lerry gets requests from customers and his workspace moves from place to place. He works three to four days a week and watches the boys the other days. He also attends the Child Survival Program. He’s usually able to take Revando with him to work, but when it’s too far, the Child Survival Program staff watch Revando at the centre until Lerry gets back.
Jois, one of program workers, says, “We really understand Lerry’s situation, and we love helping him by taking care of Alvino and Revando when they have to stay at the centre until their daddy comes back from work.”
Lerry is able to make about USD $77 a month as a carpenter. “My income as a self-taught carpenter is not much, but I always feel that it is enough,” says Lerry. “On the other hand, the Child Survival Program always provides milk for my son.”
Some neighbours say Lerry should put his children in an orphanage or have relatives take them in. But Lerry is committed to raising them himself. “I grew up as a child who lived with a stepmother, so that’s why I don’t want my son to live with someone other than me,” says Lerry.
The Child Survival Program workers respect what a hardworking father Lerry is and are committed to supporting him. Lerry says seeing how the Child Survival Program helps parents has strengthened his own commitment as a parent.
“If the Child Survival Program exists to help mothers and children, as parents assisted by the program, we need to prove that we too care for our children. The caring of the program is limited, but the responsibility of a parent is forever,” he says.
As a man, Lerry sometimes feels shy joining with the mothers at the program, but he never wants to miss the program activities. He has seen how it has helped his wife and boys.
“My wife was taught how to be a good young mother; she knew how to take care of a baby because of the program. My boys also grew up healthy. Even when my wife was sick, the program was always there to help us. The program paid Olva’s medical costs and accompanied us to the hospital and prayed together with us,” says Lerry.
When Lerry feels lonesome and misses his wife, he tries to remember the wonderful moments they had together and gives hugs to Revando and Alvino. Although daily life is hard and Lerry struggles with the unfairness of it all, at the Child Survival Program, Lerry is learning to trust in God for his family.
“I always believe that God will help me and my children through every situation; I just need to trust Him,” Lerry says.
This Father’s Day, we want to honour fathers like Lerry who work so hard to care and provide for their families. Please join us in praying for this beautiful family as they face life without their wife and mother.
By Vera Aurima, Compassion East Indonesia