“If not for the help of microfinance
loans, I wouldn’t have been able to start my piggery and support the
schooling of my three children. It wasn’t much, but it helped and
challenged me to be more productive in life,” says 44-year old Rita.
She and her husband Ganny used
to work in the sugarcane farms earning very little for a day’s labour under the
scorching heat of the sun. But when Ganny got sick from the strenuous
hauling and loading of sugarcane to the trucks, finding additional ways to earn
money fell into Rita’s hands. She tried selling sweet potato candy to ease the
family’s financial burden but it still wasn’t enough. The meagre income
forced Rita to bring her two eldest children to work in the sugarcane farms.
As a mother, it was not easy for Rita
to see her children working instead of going to school. But for a family in
dire need, more hands working means food on the table. Child labour
not only denies children access to education, but it also robs them
of their childhood and the opportunity of a better life.
Rita, along with other
parents in their neighbourhood, attended a financial literacy training
facilitated by the VisionFund MFI in the Philippines, through which they were
taught the value of saving and financial management. The training also showed
various options through which one could grow and expand
income sources, and microfinance was provided to support small business
“At first I was hesitant to get a
loan but I was encouraged to give it a try. And I don’t regret it,” says Rita.
With the loan, she purchased a pig, and was ecstatic to find out that it
was already pregnant when they bought it. Two months after, it gave birth
to five healthy piglets, and months after, many more. She now has
more than 20 pigs.
And so, with her thriving business in
place, Rita is now more confident that she can send her children to school.
Her smile is bright and full of hope
as she looks lovingly at her children. “I always remind them to
study hard because it’s the only thing I can give them. I want them to know
that even if life is difficult, I will strive hard so they can finish
school and have a better life,” she says.
Rita’s eldest, Christine, is now in
college taking up Accounting while Charlie and Lester, both in
high school, are optimistic that a brighter and sweeter future is
within their reach.
According to the 2011 NSO Survey on
Children, there are 3.03 million child labourers in the Philippines, from
which 2.99 million are working in hazardous conditions.
VisionFund’s microfinance institution
in the Philippines works with World Vision and the ABK3 LEAP project that
supports Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy & Protection to reduce child labour
in sugarcane areas.