Although the importance of microfinance has grown exponentially in the past few decades, it is not itself an end all solution. In truth, a loan is worth nothing without a headstrong recipient. At Wisconsin Microfinance, we are lucky enough to have these incredibly strong willed and driven individuals who receive our loans and turn them into much more than money. Loans become education, housing, new businesses, and most of all, progress. Because our loanees are the ones who make money work for them, we would like to do a spotlight on a few of our amazing recipients in the Philippines.
We had previously highlighted Arlene’s post-earthquake journey in a previous blog post (which can be read here http://wisconsinfinance.org/wisconsin-microfinance-after-the-storm/) and now have some follow up information on her situation. Last year, she was having trouble keeping her store stocked, as well as going through the stress of having her toddler hospitalized. In addition, her family had been living under tarps since the earthquake while they waited for their home to be rebuilt. Even three years removed from the disaster, Arlene’s family was still feeling the effects. However, in the last year, her fortunes have changed. Now on her fourth micro-loan, her store has been consistently well stocked, her children are healthy, and her home has been completed. Arlene has yet to miss a payment on any of her loans, and in doing so, has built up a very good credit record for herself. From having her entire life upended only four years ago, Arlene Tusay has not only survived but thrived as well.
Lorna is another longtime Wisconsin Microfinance loanee, who like Arlene, had her story covered earlier this year. She had been working two jobs at the time, running her own store in the daytime and moonlighting as a native healer. Working all the time, her usual day began at 2 a.m. and finished at 11 p.m. Lorna had been wearing herself thin for a very long time in order to support herself and her seven children, and consequently, had developed hypertension. Unable to work for three months while she recovered, her loan provided safety and stability to her family in an extremely trying time. After making necessary adjustments, Lorna is now in much better health, having gone from three hours of sleep a night to seven. Without the loan, she would not have been able to take the time to recover or add the much-needed sleep. Lorna is now finishing up her fifth loan from Wisconsin Microfinance, and has been able to send one of her children through vocational training at the Philippines official technical development authority. Amazingly, she has been able to maintain something few people in her previous situation would have ever been able to: A savings account.
Pampelo is a newer addition to Wisconsin Microfinance, a rice farmer who first came in contact with our organization through his wife and beneficiary, Felipa. She first took out a six-month loan with the hopes of paying down their balance after selling some of their rice harvest. Pampelo and his family work on the same land as his parents as a tenant farmer, which means that the landlord keeps around a fifth of their harvest. The two took a loan to use for agricultural purposes, renting a tractor to prep their land and buying fertilizers. In the 2013 earthquake, the family’s home was badly damaged and was so unsafe that it had to be demolished. In order to put a roof over the head of their two children, they had to sell off a family lot in order to rebuild their home by the rice fields. In addition, it seemed like Pampelo would have had to sell most of his unmilled rice in order to prep the fields for planting. However, because of the loan provided by Wisconsin Microfinance, the family was able to keep their crop and will be able to reap the full benefit of their harvest.