49 Questions with Mother, Social Worker, and Carer Archie Lazarte

If I had to name the strongest person I know, as well as my Mother, I would have to say my cousin Archie.

Archie is one of the funniest, most positive and kind-hearted people I know. She is someone who has been through so much, and come out the other side stronger and more determined than before.

Born in the Philippines and raised by a single mother, Archie worked from the age of 4 onwards, doing everything from cleaning teacher’s houses to selling food in a cafeteria. She had to work, to afford things like food and a school uniform. It was a little different to the average child’s upbringing in this country…

She moved to England aged 22 after getting married, only to find herself in a truly awful abusive relationship. It took several years but soon after her son’s first birthday, she left, and moved closer to us, the only family she had in this country.

It was the hardest time of her life, she had nowhere to live, no job, no friends in this new part of the country, and a 13 month old baby to take care of.

But bit by bit, over time, Archie rebuilt her life.

11 years later she is now working in a residential home as a carer, has a huge circle of friends, a loving partner, and a son in secondary school.

To me, she is like a different woman.

She spends her spare time gardening, reading, and going on long walks. She love’s to travel and camp by the coast.

We see her and her family every month or so and on every birthday (she’s been known to surprise us on our birthdays, always turning up with baked goods..).

I adore her for her limitless positivity and ability to always laugh at herself and not take things too seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her complain once.

So here I introduce you to a wonderful woman, who I could not be more proud of:

1. Hi Chie! How’s your day? What have you been up to?

Seeing relatives, that’s all! Picking up my son from a sleepover! That’s life..

2. What does your typical day look like? 
Get up at 6, get out the house 7:30, go to work, child goes to school, he cycles, I go by car, I get to work.

3. What sort of things are you doing at work?

I work in a residential home, so sorting out problems, catching up on tasks form the day before like paperwork, appointments etc.dishing out medication, chasing the families, talking to them, laying the table, sorting out the care-plans (what time they want for their breakfasts, daily activities like watching films) see who needs to see a doctor, we also have entertainment like singers who come in, and people who do quizzes..

4. What do you enjoy about your work?
I enjoy when people appreciate me! You’re running around like a duck with no head! Some people demand and demand..Some people are like “oh I want to get my money’s worth being here!” It is expensive, it’s £1500 a week!..

I enjoy talking to them really, when they give their elderly advice..*laughs* they have a sense of humour some of them, some are miserable. One said:“I’ll tell you what I’ll give you a good advice” and I said “What’s that then?”
“Don’t get old! Just don’t get old!!”
“Well that’s a guarantee really isn’t it, it’s just going to happen!

I used to have my favourites but now I’m more professional.

5. What’s one not-so-nice experience that stays with you?
One of them said to me once, “Oh where you from? Where did you go to school? Oh so you just came to this country to wipe people’s bums?..”
… she’ll be 99 this February..
She was very demanding, we have to hoist her, there’s always two people, we could spend all morning with her and leave the other 19 residents!

6. Does she appreciate you?
Oh yes! she say’s “Oh you’re very beautiful! Look at your hair!”
My work is so funny..
We have a blind person as well, she’s in her sixties, she commented as I was giving her her medication and she said “oh look at those beautiful nails!” 
I thought “HUH?! You’re supposed to be blind!!”
She claims everything is dark but I think it’s partial blindness…she’ll comment on my hair and say things like “oh why isn’t every carer like you Archie”.. ohh that’s a compliment, she laugh a lot.

7. So it’s rewarding?
Yeh it’s rewarding..yeh..

8. What are some of the challenges?
When accidents happen and you’re in the middle of something..Something like a fall or a stroke.

9. Do you have a special morning or evening routine? 
In the evening a cup of chamomile tea.

10. How do you stay positive in times of stress?

I just look at my child and that’s it.

11. How do you unwind at the end of the day? 
I read before going to bed.. like you! Helping-books!! “HELP!!”

12. Who is your biggest inspiration?
JESUS.. I go to church..

13. Dream career or careers? 
In a dream world.. I’d be at the spa, put my feet up with some champagne!
It changes over time..when I was sixteen I wanted to be a nun! I was brought up very religiously..then I wanted to be a nurse.. then I came to England ( at 22) and I just wanted to have a child and have a happy family life!

My dream is to own my own business.. but getting there is obviously very hard! I have a lot of courses I need to do, understanding the process, legislation, let alone selling products, I’ve started with the fish (going to Billingsgate and buying fish, then delivering to people’s houses) I want to build that up but it’s hard going.. I’m thinking about a salon..
Being a social worker, that’s something that’s safe and I’m already on that path, and I know I’d enjoy it.

14. Any advice for people wanting to go into the elderly-care sector?
If you’ve got anxiety stay away!!

15. Any general life advice to younger people?

Just be what you want to be and be the best you can be! Give it a good shot whatever you decide to do, a good heart, you can see it yourself..and pressure is good..

16. Favourite bit of life advice/quote/something you live by?
If I get down, I say “right woman you can’t afford to stay in bed! Get off your ass and do something else!
Or I go for a walk, there’s something about a walk it opens your brain, gives you ideas.

17. What would you tell your 15 year old self? 
Right, I’d say don’t blame your roots for whats to come in the future because the future is in your hands. It’s not your parents, it’s not what happened before.

18. When are you happiest? 

Chocolate! I’m happy when I’ve had a good long walk or when I can say I’ve done something! Not big, something small.

19.One of the happiest days of your life…

When I finally realised that I don’t have to worry about anything, that material things don’t matter, as long as you have peace of mind. When you have peace of mind you find happiness.

20. You had an awful time in your previous relationship..What happened after you  left?

I found myself! I got my identity back. I was no longer a woman that should be this way, dress this way, talk this way..a waste of a 24 year old.. While me now, I found myself, who I am and what I can and can’t do.. I found my own stability with a child without a man! I built the bricks..

21. Any bad habits that you’re currently trying to work on? 
I have no bad habits!! I’m quite good!
Oh.. EATING! Picking at food..

22. Best advice/guidance your parents gave you? 

Oh.. yeh the thing that stays with me “you don’t have to be somebody else! If you choose to be a cleaner, be the best cleaner ever! If you’re a bad cleaner, that’s not much is it! If you’re the best of the cleaners…

23. If you had one Super-power what would it be?

Well if I had more money I’d have the power to do the things I want to do!
I’d go back to the Philippines and help single mums over there. I’d build something sustainable for mothers and children, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable skills..Work with the local people, we don’t have benefits there, so a mother and her child will be left vulnerable. Some women turn to prostitution to survive. Some will wash clothes for money. If they have the skills to manage a business.. it would be more sustainable than odd jobs.

Anything else?
I’d make an affordable holiday resort!

24. How would you improve The Philippines?
That would be changing the President!

25. Your perfect day?

Going out, have a good walk and have a tea and nice cakes! Then more tea, a nice bath and don’t care less! I call it me time in the bath..

 26. Three things you couldn’t live without? Family obviously, my job, and shelter.

27. Three things you’d change about the world? 
GO FOR WOMEN!The suffragettes!!
People should smile more.
More sharing.

28. One thing you love about yourself?
Oh dear.. this is based on what the elderly people are saying, I never thought I did, but apparently I have a sense of humour! People say I’m easy to talk to and get on with.

Chie you are the easiest person to get on with, and you have the best sense of humour, you’re always laughing!

29. Favourite Films / TV shows/books? 
Books, just How to raise boys! The Jason Bourne films.

30. Favourite holiday? 
Norway.. Oslo.. just sightseeing! Hoping for snow but.. it did not..

31. Three things you’d like to say you did before you die?
Well, just carry on with what I’m doing really! Make a difference in people’s lives, little things but it’s big for other people, like making cups of tea because they can’t use the kettle anymore..
Go back to education, and study social care and become a social worker.
Travel- anywhere, not necessarily international!


32. What was your first job?

I was 4! Selling food in the cafeteria in Cebu City!

And after that?

Then at 6 selling ice candy at school! Then at 7 after school I had to clean my teacher’s house..

With your mum?

No just me! I’d had 2 pesos for an hour. I just swept and watered the plants, then come home and feed all the animals..

At secondary school I worked in a bakery shop..at 8pm make the bread, then go to sleep at 10pm, wake up at 4am then pack all the bread ready for delivery, just me, when I was 13 until 16.. Monday-Friday..

6 hours sleep were you tired all the time?!

No it was normal daily living! Then after that I’d bring bread to school to sell in the canteen! I have to do this otherwise I couldn’t go to school, I had to pay for my uniform, trips, food etc..

33. And what happened after you finished school?

After school I applied for a scholarship at a university, I passed it and on the same day I took an exam for a job, then I thought well if I get a job I can help my mum financially, the uni will be far more expensive so I went for plan B, so I worked as a solderer in an electrical company, I worked at Sony and AIWA..

I always wanted to finish school but I got on in life without going to Uni! I lived..

34. What would you have studied?

Primary School education, I wanted to be a teacher.

35. How did you meet your ex-husband?

Through an agency, we wrote letters, they helped me improve my English.

He made me laugh and he was very charming, he sent flowers, and flowers always make me happy, it’s a funny story actually, I was out working and a man with a guitar came to try and serenade me, my mum said “she’s not in” and the man said “Oh well, I’ve been paid so I’ll sing anyway!”My mum said “oh alright then..” and he serenaded her instead of me..

36. What were your biggest fears coming to England?

THE COLD! The new environment, the culture shock, missing family and friends.

37. Did you always want to move abroad?

Well I thought I had a shitty life in the Philippines, I should go abroad! Though I was happy with what I had, my friends and family, it was hard leaving my Mum..

38. Did you enjoy the job you had before you left for England?

Oh yeh! We had a lot of fun! Night swimming! Night drinking! We always had a good dance! Then when I came to England, it’s like “shall we go out.. oh here’s a beer.. oh…”

39. Was it traumatic moving to England?

It was traumatic, you don’t understand the colloquial terms like “alright love…” Don’t call me love I don’t even know you?!

We were brought up to offer seats to the elderly.. and here it’s like “Just wait till you get to my age love!” Oh I thought I was being kind but obviously not! The old people here don’t want to rely on the young, but the reality is they can’t pull their knickers up, they need help!

40. I’ll never forget when we were in Wales, it was cold and raining, and it was your birthday, so whilst we all huddled in the car, you got into your swimsuit and swam in the sea in the freezing cold..We were worried you’d catch pneumonia! It was amazing..What were you thinking?

BE FREE! The fear of the unknown makes you unstable.. I don’t worry so much now about what happens in the future, I live in the now, at the end of the day if you live you live, if you die you die!

41. You’ve been through so much, what’s something you took from the whole experience?

My faith in God.. if Jesus managed with no slippers or home.. I should be fine!

42. What did you learn yesterday? 
Set off early no matter the traffic!

43. What did you want to be when you were little?

Rambo!! You know Sylvester Stallone? Strong and can’t be defeated!

44. People you’d most like to meet?

When I was little I wanted to meet my Dad as he was never around. I’d pretend I had a dad, I’d write Christmas cards and never send them.

45. If you could travel to any time or place where and when would it be?

Philippines at any time!

46. Religion or spiritual practice?

I pray any time really when it’s needed! I am a Christian.. I was Catholic then I got divorced, then you don’t feel good enough so I switched to Church of England!

47. Biggest pet peeve about other people?

People with no empathy..

48. What is your proudest achievement? 

I brought a child to earth with no guidance just my Bounty book! It was scary..

49. One piece of advice to your son?
Time is gold.

Thanks Chie, you’ve been amazing. 



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