Philippine Self-Help Foundation


The PSHF came into being in January 1987, shortly after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. The island of Negros in the Southern Visayas region was plunged into crisis when the price of sugar on the world market collapsed. The island's sugar workers were laid off in their thousands and their children went hungry.

PSHF Founder, Richard Foster remembers walking through the paediatric wards of the provincial hospital and seeing the blank looks on the faces of third-degree malnourished children. There was one mother carrying her six year old boy; only he and his little sister had survived from a family of six children. A wall chart in the ward painted a picture of tragedy. In 1985, 600 children in that hospital alone had died from complications arising from malnutrition. 

The PSHF livelihood loan programme started in that same hospital with the parents of two children receiving loans for their small businesses. An office in the city was opened six months later and a part-time co-ordinator, Elre Ciudad, appointed. The early project proposals were drafted on a manual typewriter, posted to Japan for approval and cheques for the approved loans sent back by registered mail to Elre for processing.

Every month, Elre prepared a loan repayment report for submission to Richard, who, in turn credited the repayments to the accounts of the sponsors. Two decades later, the PSHF management benefits from vastly different technology but the fundamental mission and purpose as well as the methodology of the Foundation remain the same. 

One of the scenes in the Pediatric Ward of the Provincial Hospital.