Ate ("sister") Nennet has no front teeth and tells everyone that it took years of hard work. Fellow mothers volunteering with FH have lost one or two molars, but unlike Nennet, they do not yet qualify as a 'wise woman'. They are simply runner ups. Nennet's smile is not the only thing that differentiates her from many mothers in the Navotas region of great Manilla, Philippines. Nennet works with FH as an area coordinator amongst the volunteer women. She is an example to
many of what living as a leader and an advocate really looks like.
"I have always been a leader," Nennet says, "even in elementary school I was the one to organize and plan activities for my classmates. I stopped leading after I got married when I was 17." A few years later Nennet once again took up a leadership role, volunteering as a health worker in the community, organizing the Women's Alliance of Navotas and stepping into the role of chairman for the San Roche Women's Association. When FH moved into San Roche she was happy to help them advocate for community transformation.
Nennet speaks about the many physical and monetary needs in her community as well as the need for transformation of attitudes. "Many women do not care about sending their children to school, they do not look after their families. I want to help them change"
Nennet has become a moving force in San Roche. She is constantly stopped in the street by fellow Navotians who ask her advice on family problems, legal issues or health solutions. Weekly she volunteers as the local health centers, pays family visits to the poorest in her community and spends a great deal of time helping train other women in the community how to care for their children. "Putting my leadership to skills to use has helped me to gain respect in the community."
But this respect does not come without confrontation. The more Nennet has worked with FH the more she has become concerned with social justice. In several cases she has faced opposition from towns people because she has chosen to advocate for the lower class, and often abused citizens. "It's ok," Nennet says. "FH, through Values Formation classes, bible trainings and education conferences has changed my life and transformed my attitude. I now love my enemies, I have more patience with people and I pray more. I also have the support of other women who are leading with FH. We have become good friends and we lead together."
And Nennet’s attitude has not gone unnoticed. Mayor of Navotas, John Ray, recently asked Nennet is she would run for as city counselor. "I do not want to work as counselor," Nennet giggles, "I am too shy. I love to work with the women in my community. I love to speak to them about health and taking care of their families. FH has taught me a lot and I wish to educate others around me. That is my role"