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This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) #ChooseToChallenge campaign aims to challenge gender bias and inequality and celebrate women’s achievements to create an inclusive world. In solidarity with the IWD, this edition of our Meet Your VMA series features one woman who’s all in one a mother, provider, and leader.

2020 upended VMA Aljane’s life like many of us. As a nurse, she fears for her aging parents, her medical frontliner sister, and her six-year-old daughter. But as the sole provider for her daughter and head of the family, she can’t afford to get cooped up and lose sight of their needs.

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Aljane as a Nurse

After working in a local city hospital for six years, she found herself hopping from one call center to another in the next four years. This route is not uncommon for Filipino nurses. It’s either they earn experiences in hospitals to work abroad or stay to work in customer service industries due to better compensation.

She stumbled upon Xilium four years ago and got excited about the salary offer, virtual medical work, and work-life balance. “VMA work is a fusion of my profession and experience in call centers,” says Aljane, “I’m loving it and I doubt I’d stay this long if I didn’t.”

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Aljane as a Leader

As in many companies, Xilium also had a blip early last year. But the spike in telehealth services and remote work later on turned the tables. Growth became inevitable. It was during this time when Aljane felt her shell shaken when she read the email blast subject: We Need More Team Supervisors.

VMA tasks have become a routine, and routine is her comfort zone. Joining the ranks of team leads entails big responsibilities like coaching members, liaising between them and their clients, handling escalations, the list goes on. She was reluctant, but she looked at her daughter growing up and herself who’s on a professional standstill. Then, on the last call for applications and out of a moment’s spur, she gave it a shot.

Getting a promotion is something she’s been putting off for years. And in the wake of a global pandemic, Aljane never felt more uncertain. “Many people I know lost their jobs and livelihoods to the pandemic,” she says, “I’m very grateful I still have a job and a promotion — the icing on top.”

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Aljane as a Mother

Aljane is the third of five siblings and currently living with her daughter, younger sister, and parents. They got her back looking after her little girl. A big chunk of responsibilities still falls on her though. Added to that is the weekly set of school modules for her first-grader.

Raising her six-year-old outweighs all the roles she’s taken. But just like what they say: nothing can stop a woman from getting things done. With schools still closed, distance learning keeps learners busy. Majority of public schools in the country opted for a modular learning approach due to limited resources and internet access. So for a few hours a day, Aljane is her daughter’s teacher, friend, and playmate.

“It’s a huge sacrifice,” says Aljane, “but I don’t want to miss the chance to make an impact on her young mind.” She recounts a time her daughter saved stories for her. “She didn’t want to tell her Lola (grandmother) and Tita (aunt),” she starts, “she said the story was only meant for me.” Her stories may be trivial or tall tales, but to Aljane, they mean the world. Since then, whenever her little girl asks for her company, she’s not one to delay.

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Aljane as a Provider

For a registered Filipino nurse, questions like ‘when are you going back to the hospital?’ or ‘do you even have plans to go abroad?’ are inevitable. Undoubtedly, Aljane has the skills and experience to make it overseas. Providing for her daughter’s needs also takes top consideration. But it’s her being a single mother that going abroad doesn’t sound so appealing anymore.

“My parents are not getting any younger,” Aljane begins, “I just can’t imagine leaving my daughter so young to care for other people.” The mere thought of it “traumatizes” Aljane. So when asked how she sees herself five to ten years from now, she answers: “Still in the same place. I can’t think anywhere else.”

Reflecting on pandemic-induced changes, Aljane continues to reassess her priorities with herself and her family on top of the list. She believes putting loved ones first can make major decision-making easier.

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Abigail Sabido

Abigail is a senior writer in Xilium. Before joining the company, she worked as a content creator for online startups and has written about current events, health, lifestyle, and entertainment for US-based online news portals and lifestyle blog sites.
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