Spring 2011 ADRA Works

Food costs are rapidly rising in the Philippines. Today, 60 percent of the population spends more than 50 percent of their income on food, with half of that expenditure spent on rice. Most families in this part of the country earn their living through farming or the raising of livestock. Food prices are increasing, while the income of farmers is not increasing. The simple art of sewing is making a huge difference in a family’s daily survival.

The sewing machines for the Philippines project appeared in the 2006 edition of ADRA’s Really Useful Gift Catalog. Private donors enabled an initial distribution of 18 sewing machines. These were not the latest computerized sewing machines that we find in our local craft stores. These machines were sturdy, heavy-duty refurbished power machines used in factories 20 years ago. Built to last and easy to repair, they were an excellent choice. That year, the chosen beneficiaries were widows and single female-headed households. Each woman was required to pay ADRA 550 pesos [$13] a month to repay the loan of the sewing machine. By requesting this, ADRA was able to turn this onetime gift catalog project into a sustainable sewing bank. To date, 120 sewing machines have been distributed over the past five years. Recently, ADRA staff returned to visit some of the original beneficiaries.

“We are a farming family, and before the ADRA program, I did not earn any income,” says Grace.

“When I was a young girl, I worked in a factory sewing tote bags. Before ADRA, when our farm was not earning money, my son could not go to school. Often, we had little to eat. Now I get up early each day and do housework, make breakfast, and see my son off to school. I am sewing by 8 each morning. I sew until 6 each night and then make dinner. I do this six days a week, sewing on the kitchen table. An agent brings me all the pieces, and I sew women’s shorts all day.”

Grace has a humble home - a kitchen, a small living area, and a bedroom. Along the perimeter of her home, she has planted marigolds, petunias, and daisies. Located along the main road, her home is immediately noticed for its neat, tidy appearance.

“Do I tire of doing this each day?” Grace asks. Laughing, she answers, “No, I’m grateful. This is keeping food on our table and keeping my son in school. I am paying for his school fees, supplies, and uniform. “Even more, I now dream of his attending college one day,” says Grace. “I am earning an average of 100 pesos [$2.30] a day, and sometimes I am able to put a few pesos aside. This money I am saving is his college fund. My neighbors tell me that college is impossible for my son, that it is too expensive. I am saving anyway, because in my heart, I believe he will go. Thank you, ADRA, for giving me this dream.”

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