Today we take you to a mountain region in the Philippines, where many of the people make ends meet through a combination of menial jobs and loans.
Eleven-year-old Cherry lives there with her family: four brothers; a father who does construction and drives a motorcycle for hire; and a mother who earns money by doing stone crushing, a grueling job but one that’s common for that region. The family lives in a small house with a simple roof and bamboo walls and flooring. They have electricity, but no running water, which means they need to buy bottled water—another expense. They have a latrine and a small vegetable garden.
As the only girl, Cherry can’t use her brothers’ hand-me-down uniforms for school—she needs her own. Her resourceful mother alters the uniform to make it fit a growing girl for an entire year. And as hard as things are sometimes, Cherry’s mother is proud that she’s able to feed her kids each day. Meals are simple though: rice, vegetables and fish.
There are times when Cherry and her brothers have all had to share a single pencil for their schoolwork, often sharpened down to the nub. They do their work on the back of old papers and other scraps they can find.
But today, Cherry is a Feed the Children scholar at her school. That means she receives supplies, shoes, and encouragement to learn. And she’s a bright girl and diligent student. With a tear in her eye, she says she plans to graduate with honors and become a teacher so her mother never has to crush stones in the river again.
But Feed the Children provides more than just direct aid. We help train and empower parents to save money wisely so they can have a better future.
Like many families in this region who struggle to make ends meet, Cherry’s parents often took out shady loans from local loan sharks. The terms of these loans can often lead to an endless cycle of dependency and debt.
But Feed the Children has been working to end this cycle by creating local savings and loan programs, whereby members of a community come together to pool and save money and create loans that have lower interest rates.
Community people and parents are learning that you don’t have to have a bank book in order to have savings. They have the capacity to save, given the right guidance in managing financial resources. Many are realizing that they can secure their family’s future if they save.
You can be a part of this important work through your gift. To learn more about our work in the Philippines, click here.
A special thanks to Healey Jo S. Rosell for providing the content for today’s story.