Meet Arline Lascano, married for 12 years and a mother of three kids. Arline and her family lives in an upland village in Pilar, Sorsogon where rice farming, copra production and services are the main sources of income. After getting married, she became a home-maker and did not have any source of income.
In December 2015, she was convinced by her sister to join a self-help group (SHeG) named Dahlia. Although she has no income, she made it a point to have Php 10.00 (€ 0.20) as weekly regular savings. As soon as qualified, she applied for a Php1,500 (€ 29.00) loan to start her mobile loading business. From her profit, she has also started making polvoron, peanuts and popcorn, which she consigns to now 10 outlets. This June, she plans to start selling gasoline to tricycle drivers in their area. Motorized tricycles are the only public transport operating in their village.
Organizing and coaching SHeGs is one of the strategies of Bicol Center for Community Development (BCCD) in advocating child rights at the grass roots level. A SHeG is usually composed of about 15 women-members who are living in close proximity and powered by the belief that everyone has their own capacity which just needs to be harnessed.
These women are provided with hands-on experience to improve their facilitation, leadership and planning skills as they share their concerns and support with each other. Part of the empowerment and fostering camaraderie is the savings and loan component with no funds from external sources. Policies, recording and fund management are done by the members themselves.
BCCD is a local partner of Educo-Ph in implementing the Child-Friendly Local Governance (CFLG) Project in Pilar, one of the six municipalities covered by this Project. It strengthens the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) in planning and implementing programs for children’s well-being, both at the municipal and barangay levels. Through it, the covered areas were able to enact Children’s Code. Raising awareness on child rights through Educo-trained community facilitators (CFs) were also done.
BCCD has incorporated the SHeG-approach, which provided a unique ingredient in CFLG implementation. This woman empowerment approach acknowledges the influence of a mother as the closest carer of a child. The SHeGs are tapped in implementing activities related to children, like Children’s Day celebration and in awareness-raising of the Children’s Code and child rights.
“Through SHeG, I learned to stand on my own and not to totally depend on my husband financially. Now, I need not worry should we have an immediate need while my husband is still out working, unlike before,” Arline shares.
“My relationship with him has also improved. When he learned that I became a member of SHeG and was able to start my loading business, he also started giving me extra money for my needs, some of which is deposit to Dahlia as special savings at Php 20 (€ 0.39) per week,“ she explains.
Arline is also an active member of parents-teachers’ association. She helps plant, weed and build fence for their school garden, their counterpart in DepEd’s feeding program. She also cooks for the school’s feeding program to help malnourished school children. She does these even if her 11-year-old son is not part of the program.
Through the awareness campaigns of CLFG project, she become more aware of the security concerns of her children and ensures that when her husband cannot pick their children in school, she waits for them. She was also able to open an account with a local bank that provides microfinance loans, SME loans, and other loans tailored-fit to the needs of their clients.
# Story by Mariella, MEL Specialist