Mother finds a blessing after the storm

Mother finds a blessing after the storm

Publication info

Dennis Amata, CARE Philippines

Maria Samillano’s simple life with her husband and three children was agitated when super typhoon Haiyan smashed its way to her coastal village in Laua-an, Antique, Philippines. Haiyan completely destroyed her small house made of bamboo and even disrupted her livelihood.

But two years after the tragic experience, Maria now proudly narrates how she was able to slowly get back on her feet after a series of ups and downs.

Maria, 44, was a recipient of CARE’s cash transfer program to restore damaged livelihoods. Armed with determination to earn more for her family, Maria prepared a proposal and underwent a panel interview to qualify for CARE’s Women Enterprise Fund program, where women entrepreneurs get additional financial support to boost their respective income-generating activities.

“Six months after I received the grant, I can say that a lot of things have improved in my life. I am now earning enough to support my family’s basic needs,” shared Maria who is fondly called ‘Mayang’ by her neighbours.

Maria sells peanuts, corns and vegetables in two markets the entire week. She normally wakes up at 4 a.m. to prepare food for her children and do household chores before going to the market to sell.

“During the early months of restarting this business, I was selling five kilos of peanuts a week. Now, I am able to sell 10 kilos of peanuts a week,” Maria proudly shared.

Because of the improvement in her sales, Maria was able to buy a refrigerator that she also uses for her ice candy business. The construction of her stock house where she stores the goods she sells in the market was also completed.

“The stock house helps to protect my goods from rats, cats and other pests, as well as from flooding.

She said she can now sustain her youngest daughter’s education who dreams of becoming a pilot someday.

“When my daughter told me that she wanted to be a pilot, I was hesitant if I could afford it because my husband also doesn’t have a permanent job. But now that I’m beginning to earn more, I am planning to save for her future studies,” said Maria.

“I wasn’t able to finish my studies because of poverty. I only studied until Grade 4. And I don’t want that to happen to my children so I am always encouraging them to concentrate on their studies while I strive hard to prepare for their school expenses.”

Maria studied how to do basic computation and write on her own.

“I had to learn how to do basic computation prior to starting my food vending business. And I realized if you are really determined to learn something, you will be able to achieve your goal,” said Maria.

Being a vendor for more than a decade, Maria already knows how to deal with daily struggles in the market.

“There are some customers who would beg to pay later and sometimes it takes weeks or months before they pay. Also, it is inevitable to experience customers who would complain about the food I sell. Like with peanuts, some would say it’s not fresh anymore so they would return the items.”

Maria said that it is her responsibility as a vendor to take care of her products and avid customers so she is taking those as a learning experience.

“I replace those items but of course I am still aware that there are some people who would do that just to get more.”

Maria, who is now jollier to share her story, is very active in joining CARE’s trainings on business planning, productivity and marketing.

“I learned so much from CARE. We were taught how to compute my enterprise’s cash in and out so I could determine my actual profit. I also learned how to better negotiate with my suppliers and customers,” said Maria.

A lot of things have already changed in Maria’s life. Because she gets more income now, she can buy things that she was just imagining to have.

“If CARE didn’t arrive in our village to support us, maybe we are still struggling to restore our livelihoods. Maybe we are still struggling to send our children to school.”

“I have learned to fully use my potential now. Yes, I wasn’t able to finish my studies but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t work and earn for my family,” said Maria.

Maria was also able to purchase a motorcycle that she now uses in her business. She gets to save money as well for her children’s education.

“I am slowly achieving my dreams for my family. And I wouldn’t stop striving hard until I see them get their college diploma.”