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Dreams Continued After Haiyan
Dreams Continued After Haiyan
LEYTE, PHILIPPINES – As the old saying goes, tough times don’t last; tough people do.
Annaliza Caindoc, a 32-year-old maker of herbal tea powder from Albuera in Leyte, had to drop out of school at a very young age and work to help her family.
“I grew up in a very poor family,” Annaliza said, shedding tears as she told her story. “My father is a farmer, while my mom is a plain housewife. I have seven other siblings, and nobody was able to finish studies.”
At 14, Annaliza half-heartedly left her rural village for better opportunities in Manila, so she could help support her younger siblings’ education. She landed a job in the Philippines’ capital city as a domestic helper.
“It was really hard,” she recalled. “At that time, I didn’t know how to speak Filipino. I only knew our local dialect. My boss used to scold me a lot, because I didn’t know how to operate electric appliances. I couldn’t help but cry whenever I was missing my family.”
Annaliza often experienced discrimination in the big city because of her status in life and her level of education. She said she heard a lot of offensive words degrading her abilities.
“I only finished Grade 6,” she said. “I wasn’t able to continue my studies because of poverty. I was hoping to become a professional someday, but eventually I just lost hope. I just accepted that it was my fate to be poor.”
Despite all the hardships, Annaliza continued to draw strength from her family, thinking of a brighter future for her younger siblings. When she reached the legal age to work, she left her domestic job to become a factory worker.
“I spent 13 years away from my family,” Annaliza said. “I was able to go home sometimes for a short vacation, but only every two years.”
At 27, Annaliza decided to go back to her family and start anew. But then she had to face another challenge. On November 8, 2013, super Typhoon Haiyan devastated her town and destroyed the family’s small house made of wood and palm fronds. The typhoon also left the people in her community with no access to livelihoods.
“The typhoon was so strong, it destroyed all the coconut trees and the crops that we were relying on to live,” she said. “In just a snap, they were all gone. It was so depressing.”
Annaliza’s family received emergency food packages from CARE. Her mother also received money from CARE’s conditional cash transfer program to kick-start a small business.
“We thank all the organizations, including CARE, for helping us get back on our feet,” Annaliza said. “Without their support, we probably would still be having a hard time recovering.”
Rebuilding a life, building a livelihood
Two years after Haiyan, Annaliza got reconnected with CARE when a staff member heard about the young woman’s small business, making and selling herbal tea powder. CARE and local partner Rural Development Initiatives in the Islands of Leyte (RDII) had implemented the Women Enterprise Fund program in Annaliza’s hometown to help female entrepreneurs affected by the typhoon. In addition to cash grants, women in the program receive skills building training to help them better manage their enterprises.
“I was informed that CARE has this program for struggling women entrepreneurs,” Annaliza said. “So I prepared a simple business proposal for CARE and underwent a panel interview. I felt so happy and blessed that I passed the interview and I received the cash grant.”
Annaliza’s sister had been trained by a local non-governmental organization in making tea using herbal plants and turmeric to treat kidney stones, colds, coughs and hypertension. Her sister taught her how to do it. Armed with determination to start an income-generating activity, Annaliza worked hard to master making herbal tea powders that she could sell.
“Making herbal tea powder is labor-intensive,” she said. “I had to do it manually, because I didn’t have enough materials and tools. Because I didn’t have financial capital at that time, I also couldn’t buy more raw materials (leaves) to be able to produce more.
“The cash grant I received from CARE was really a huge help,” she added. “I was able to buy my own blender, cooking materials, weighing scale and other things I need for my business. I also allotted money to build my own processing center and am now able to buy more raw materials.”
From being a shy lass from the province, Annaliza has blossomed into a motivated lady who takes the extra mile in managing her business. She has become her family’s breadwinner, as both of her parents are ill.
“I go to various markets now, and I even do sales talk whenever I’m in a bus or in other public places,” she said. “A lot of people, who used to be strangers I just met on the streets, are now my regular customers. They like my products.”
Now, Annaliza has her own staff to help make tea powder and sell products in different locations.
“It feels great that I was also able to help other needy women in my community to earn for their own families,” she said. “I see my old self in them. I want them to also discover their potential.”
‘I can help my family out of poverty’
Annaliza credits much of her success to the skills she learned in the CARE training sessions: on business planning, financial management, quality and productivity, marketing and managing risks. She was also informed about the basic services from different agencies and organizations that she can access to succeed in a competitive market.
“I never thought I would be in this position in my life,” Annaliza said. “Before, I was telling myself that running a business is only for those who graduated from college. But I proved myself wrong. Even I wasn’t able to finish my studies, I can still succeed and help my family out of poverty.”
With her income, Annaliza now supports the basic needs of her parents and even funds the education of her nieces and nephews.
“Since I still don’t have my own child, I am supporting the education of my sisters’ children instead,” she said. “I want them to finish their studies, so it will be easier for them to find a job in the future.”
Annaliza plans to expand her business and employ more women in her community.
“Right now I’m busy making herbal tea powder,” she said. “I make sure I also save money for myself. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll go back to school and take up a course on business management.”