Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What we’ve worked for.

“I want to have a better life for my family and I want to help other people.”

“To solve poverty and learn more how to unite the family and to do business.”

“So that all my children will complete their studies.”

“Family bonding. Sustaining the children’s needs.”

“I’m happy because we have an organization that is willing to help those people with need for financial assistance.”

- Our Borrowers

Rufina Quite. Maria Ana Sariola. Imelda Racines. Marilou Racines. Lilibeth Racines. Marivic Sevilla. Ludicia Carillo. Vilma Melarpis. Jocelyn Miday. Benie Sepato. Throughout the past semester, I was introduced to several borrowers, thousands of miles away. In a land so remote, no photographer would dare to visit and photograph them. They may have been faceless names to some, but through their words, I understood a lot about their backgrounds and circumstances – I felt like I knew them personally. I thought to myself, one day I’m going to meet these people. I will see what they look like; greet them; Listen to their stories in person. 

We evaluated loan applications, sent questions to the field, and were delighted to know that, “The loan applicants are excited and very eager to welcome them and listen to their American idols.” Among other loans, we managed to secure approvals for all 10 of our farmers in Libon, Albay. I anticipated the delight on their faces as we were arriving shortly after they received their funds. There were so many questions I had for them, so many expectations.

Finally the time had come. We packed our bags and flew to the other side of the world. We were on a mission; to meet with our borrowers, witness the impact we were creating and learn from each of them. The itinerary was set. On day four, fly to Legazpi, drive to Libon, and see our farmers in action. We were scheduled to meet them at 1 in the afternoon. As the time drew nearer and we had already met several borrowers, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. There was something special about these borrowers. While the majority of people we previously encountered were loan applicants handed down from the previous semester, these were the people I worked with directly. We were about to witness the fruits of our labor this past semester. So, on day four, we followed our plan and departed for the airport. Upon arrival, we were greeted with less than pleasant news. Due to a damaged vessel, our flight was rescheduled to a much later time. Disappointed, we still pressed on in the hopes of still meeting out borrowers who were patiently awaiting us.

Finally, we arrived in Legazpi and left for Libon without much delay. Upon arrival at the Colegio de St Luise de Marillac, we were greeted by a sight we will surely never forget. In the courtyard, our borrowers waited at a finely decorated round table. The table was adorned with several local delicacies, both prepared by and purchased by our borrowers. Not only were we about to see the fruits of our labor, we were about to taste the fruits of theirs. As specially invited guests, we were greeted by a round of applause – much to our surprise. The work we were doing meant that much to these people. They were as proud to finally meet us as we were to meet them.

After lunch, as is now customary, the borrowers presented their business plans and progress to the audience. Similar to our borrowers in Iloilo, they had some challenges with the English language. Luckily, their children were able to underscore the importance their parents placed on securing their education.

As if we were not already moved by their stories, Ludicia Carillo’s son, Alan Carillo, opened his speech with:
“Standing in front of you is the hard work and sacrifice of my parents.”

We were truly moved as he continued by noting his successful high school graduation and that he is now pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness – a major feat in his community. Alan spoke highly of his parents and showed a great deal of gratitude for the help we extended to his family and optimism for the success of his family’s business. He concluded with his hope to travel to the United States in the future and pursue the American dream. Most of the other children similarly graduated high school and were pursuing degrees in various disciplines. The helping hands of GLOBE thus extended beyond monetary gains into the holistic well being of families and communities.
We were also given the opportunity to share words of encouragement and advice. 

After the speeches, we were then encouraged to plant seeds. Symbolic of the seeds we were planting in the lives of these borrowers, they helped us plant the seeds for new mango trees. It was their hope that when we return some day, we would be able to witness the growth of our trees, as well as the growth of their businesses. The evening concluded with fellowship between ourselves and our borrowers’ families, filled with laughter, excitement and sharing.

This is what we’ve worked for.

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