I was 19 years old when I was held up in Cebu by a man with a gun. I was walking home to my boarding house from my job at a call center when my attacker suddenly appeared and pointed a gun toward me and then at my bag. In a panic, I hastily pulled out my smartphone and gave it to him. I told him I had no money, and he quickly ran off.
Trembling with fear, I walked to the nearest police station to report the incident. The policemen did not seem very interested in my report; they simply told me it would be hard to trace the holdupper and recover my cell phone. This depressed me so much that I left to return to my boarding house.
Once I was in my room, I was shaking so badly that I laid down and cried for hours. I refused to leave the room for days, and only survived with the help of the friend who shared my room. She tried to console me, telling me I was lucky that I had not been killed. She was kindness itself, bringing me food after her work each day, because I was simply too terrified to go out to buy food and other necessities.
Since I was running short of funds, my friend suggested I go back to the call center, not just to explain why I had suddenly stopped working, but to see if I could collect whatever wages were due me. But I felt so debilitated that all I wanted to do was return to my hometown in Leyte.
Finally, I recovered from my fear and gained enough strength, so I went to take the boat back to my hometown. I wanted to be in familiar surroundings with my mother and siblings to feel safe again, to be secure among those who loved me.
After I had felt stronger in that small town where I was born, far from the big scary city of Cebu, I looked around for work.
After some weeks, I found employment at a warehouse where I sorted out merchandise. The wage was low, but I was glad to be earning something to give me some self-confidence.
During that time, one of my aunts (my mother’s younger sister) who lives in Australia came to visit our hometown with her husband. After they heard about what had happened to me in Cebu, they offered to support me while I took a caregiver’s course.
That meant I would have to go back to Cebu. But I gratefully accepted the offer and prepared to return to Cebu to begin studying. I would have preferred to study nursing, but that is a more expensive option, and no one in my immediate family has the means to finance me, so I was grateful for my aunt’s support.
I passed the seven-month caregiver’s course with high marks, and am now a licensed practitioner. Soon after, I was lucky to find work with a couple living in a suburban condo. I take care of an old man, a foreigner, with dementia.
Having almost completely recovered from my trauma and regained my self-confidence, I am ready today to face any future challenges in my life.
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Nicole Cadungog, 21, hopes to find work as a caregiver abroad, like her generous aunt did.
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