I remember as a kid, we had a tradition of clustering around our mum for some folktales at night. Studying anthropology went a long way to build an interest in diverse cultures. I love meeting people and I am keen at hearing their tales. I introduce you to my friend Joyce from the Philippines. Read her unedited story below!                                     @Kewrites

“Marriage brought me to Belgium; yet the same matrimony ruined…, NO almost ruined my life”

Coming into the land flowing with beer and chocolate, my expectations were not particularly high; all I wanted was an opportunity to work, make money and have my own family. It’s no surprise that I decided to live in Belgium permanently given the paucity of employment opportunities in my home country. By the way, I was a freelance journalist in the Philippines even once working as a  broadcaster and became as a poetsvrouw when I got to Belgium. Not what I intended though, but It’s better than nothing.

Even though I miss my family a lot, the benefits of being here by far outweigh the physical separation. The decent social security and health systems, the amazing work benefits to name a few have given me the rare chance to pursue my dreams. That’s as good as it gets; as you will soon find out, my sojourn in Belgium has been far from suave.

My first 3 years here were miserable, to the point that suicidal thoughts clouded my mind. My ex-husband (Yes Ex, because I am divorced) has a mental illness. He abandoned me when I was 8 months pregnant for a Filipino prostitute in my country; I wasn’t treated as a wife at all. He left me with his parents with whom I was compelled to spend 3 forgettable years. Due to the differences in culture and mentality, I had multiple disagreements and fights with his parents and being far from home with no family support, this appalling circumstance plunged me into a deep depression.

My tears became my food; I cried through most of the nights and wished I didn’t wake up the following morning. It was a very difficult time; friends and family were nowhere near my rescue. But then, I got some courage from my child! I thought “If I kill myself now, what will become of my son? He has no father; will I also make him motherless? Who will provide remittance to my family back home: (ever since my father and 2 brothers died in motorcycle accident in 2012, I monthly send money to my mother) I’ve been the only one supporting them”? All these thoughts made me to refrain from committing suicide. I had to live for my son and family. What a life I thought! When will this misery end: my father and brothers died too early, my husband abandoned me and my child leaving me for his grandparents (who off course believed his lies over my truth). But there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

My 4th year in Belgium was better: God wiped away all my tears; He gave me freedom after 3 years of being a ‘prisoner’ to my in-laws, He heard my prayers during those 3 dreadful years.  He heard me cry every night and knew I had no joy living. BUT,  God connected me to some really nice people who were of immense help to me and my child and for that I am grateful. I was able to rent my own apartment, the parents of my ex-husband still helped me because of their grandson. I only wonder if they would still help if I didn’t have their grandchild!

Today I have a permanent job and an opportunity to study and a good relationship with my ex-parents in-laws and lots of good friends.  Oh before I forget, I also have a happy love life:). Just never give up! God has a plan for you. If it’s not the one you want it’s because it won’t be good for you. He will give you something better. You only need to have faith in him.

You may have to suffer for a short time. Afterwards with God, work hard and good decisions (to study again like I did), it is not impossible to achieve your dreams.  As it’s often said, ‘after every storm the sun will smile’.

Finally, to ladies leaving the Philippines to join their Belgian spouses; a little advice please: if you can, as much as possible do a proper background check on the man!

It is my earnest desire that this tale gives hope, comfort and inspiration to someone out there!