Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Claire (40) is a stay-at-home/work-at-home mother. She wakes up at around 6:30 in the morning and prepares breakfast for her family. A little while later the others are up as well and each of her five children do their respective tasks such as fetching water from a communal pump and cleaning the house. By 9 AM her four children: Judeth (17), Lightlyn (15), Jhon Clark (12) and Sarah (10) as well as her nephew JR gather for their home classes. With the pandemic, they are studying at home with modules provided by their teachers. They sit down on improvised chairs beside a wooden bench which serves as their study table. Claire sits down with them to tutor/guide them through their modules.

Leopoldo (40), Claire’s husband, once had a thriving welding and vulcanising shop, the earnings from which enabled him to provide for his family sufficiently. This came to an end however when he was diagnosed with TB last year. He was advised to refrain from doing hard physical labour, thus he has been taking it easy since then. Occasionally though he takes on short-term carpentry jobs with the aid of his eldest son Lioneil (19) or transports passengers in the family’s old tricycle.

In March, the province went into lockdown due to the pandemic and at the same time Leopoldo’s health was spiralling down; Claire was forced to borrow money from a friend (totalling 15,000 pesos) to buy food for her family and buy her husband’s medication. In July, her friend badly needed money and asked Claire to pay her back. At the time, Claire was eking out a living from selling home made plant pots while her son Lioneil did carpentry jobs. Their combined income was just enough to scrape by on. Claire decided to borrow 17,000 pesos to pay back her friend and to buy a mobile phone to post her pots online.

Last month Ronilo who is a brother-in-law of Leopoldo came with some positive news. Near the construction site where he works is an ideal location for a vulcanising shop as there is a steady flow of big trucks as well as small cars and motorcycles. He is aware of the family’s situation and he knows that Leopoldo is eager to get back to work.

Upon hearing this, Claire and Leopoldo came to the office to apply for a loan from the PSHF. They will use the loan to buy a compressor, an engine/power generator as well as peripherals such as cement and cold patches. The balance of 5,000 pesos will be used by Claire to pay her arrears with the lending company.

The couple will put up an improvised shed using a tarpaulin to shelter them from the elements. At the start they anticipate average earnings of 300 pesos ($6) a day. The fee for a regular-sized tire is 40 pesos; 20 pesos for a bicycle tire and 200 pesos for a tubeless lorry tire. Lioneil will be the main person to do the job and Leopoldo will assist. Claire will also be contributing to the family income by cooking lunch dishes and snacks which she will sell to neighbours as well as at the vulcanising place. She anticipates a weekly profit of 500 pesos ($10) from this.

For several months the Montaño family have been living almost hand-to-mouth. Hopefully the proceeds from the vulcanising shop will put more food on their table. Claire and Leopoldo are most thankful to the PSHF for the loan assistance which will pave the way for an improvement in their lives.

Bernadette G. Togado

PSHF Bacolod

November 2020