One mom's dramatic story of change

Oct 19, 2016
By World Vision Philippines; Edited by Katie Hackett

I am Sylvia Garlan, a volunteer leader for World Vision. I am married and have five kids. This is my story of change.

Before I joined World Vision as a volunteer leader, my life had no purpose. Like most mothers, my day started by preparing my kids’ food and uniform before they went to school. After I had taken them to school, I would do the usual house chores of cleaning the house, washing clothes and preparing my family’s meals.

I would seem a loving and caring mother. But no, this was just a pretense. Unknown to my husband and kids, I was merely doing these things so I could have more time to do my vice—gambling.

Not only did I lie to my family but I, like most gamblers, also learned to sell valuable things that my husband and I had bought. My husband didn’t know it then. He learned the painful truth about my addiction one day. I was consecutively losing and I couldn’t pay the 5,000 PHP (about 135 CAD) to redeem the necklace I had pawned. Such a huge amount of money was a big loss for a family like mine who tried to make both ends meet.
My husband noticed that I had not been wearing the necklace he gave me. When I ran out of lies, I told him the truth. He got angry and yet helped me buy my necklace back by borrowing money from his friend, who lent him the amount he needed but with high interest.
I promised him I would get my necklace back. But I lied. Instead, I used the money to gamble again. I was blind to see that I was hurting my family, who loved me despite what I was doing.
World Vision came to our community and took me in as a community leader. At first, I didn’t want to do it. But since the World Vision staff was my husband’s friend, I hesitantly agreed. Joining World Vision started instilling in me the meaning of trust and one’s worth—feelings that I couldn’t fully understand at that time.  
Slowly, I was starting to feel the change in me. I wanted to become a good mother and wife. I began to question myself: How can I be a good community leader if I am gambling? When World Vision put up its office in the community, I got so busy with my tasks that I had less time to gamble. I also started meeting new acquaintances and gained new perspective in life.
My family noticed the big change in me. I learned to control my temper, which, I think, is a common trait among gamblers. I started caring not just for my family but also for my neighbours.
I also joined World Vision’s community-based savings group. I used the money I saved to buy things for my family’s needs. We bought a new tricycle we use for additional income to send our children to school.
I give my deepest gratitude to all the people who believe in me. I am not perfect but I believe that God has not given up on me and is continuously molding me to become a better person, wife, mother and friend. At a time when I almost pawned my self-worth, God redeemed me.

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