Mother finds a ‘blessing’ after the storm

Written by Dennis Amata, Information & Communications Manager, CARE Philippines

Maria Samillano’s simple life with her husband and three children was turned upside down when super typhoon Haiyan smashed its way to her coastal village in Laua-an, Antique, Philippines. Haiyan completely destroyed her small house made of bamboo and disrupted the family's ability to earn an income.

But two years after the tragic experience, Maria now proudly describes how she was able to slowly get back on her feet.

Maria was a recipient of CARE’s cash transfer program to help people restore their sources of income. Armed with determination to earn more for her family, Maria prepared a proposal and underwent a panel interview to qualify for CARE’s Women Enterprise Fund program, where women entrepreneurs get additional financial support to boost their respective income-generating activities.

“Six months after I received the grant, I can say that a lot of things have improved in my life. I am now earning enough to support my family’s basic needs,” shared Maria who is fondly called ‘Mayang’ by her neighbours.

Maria sells peanuts, corns and vegetables in two markets the entire week. She normally wakes up at 4 a.m. to prepare food for her children and do household chores before going to the market to sell.

“During the early months of restarting this business, I was selling five kilos of peanuts a week. Now, I am able to sell 10 kilos of peanuts a week,” Maria proudly shared.

Because of the improvement in her sales, Maria was able to buy a refrigerator that she also uses for her ice candy business. The construction of her stock house where she stores the goods she sells in the market was also completed.

“The stock house helps to protect my goods from rats, cats and other pests, and from flooding.”

Maria said she can now pay for her youngest daughter’s education. Her daughter dreams of becoming a pilot someday.

“When my daughter told me that she wanted to be a pilot, I was hesitant if I could afford it because my husband also doesn’t have a permanent job. But now that I’m beginning to earn more, I am planning to save for her future studies,” said Maria.

“I wasn’t able to finish my studies because my famliy couldn't afford it. I only studied until Grade 4. I don’t want that to happen to my children, so I am always encouraging them to concentrate on their studies while I strive hard to prepare for their school expenses.”

Maria actively takes part in CARE’s training sessions on business planning, productivity and marketing.

“I learned so much from CARE. I was taught how to compute my business earnings in and out so I could determine my actual profit. I also learned how to better negotiate with my suppliers and customers,” said Maria.

A lot of things have already changed in Maria’s life. Because she earns more money now, she can buy things that she used to dream about.

“If CARE didn’t come to our village, we might still be struggling to restore our businesses and send our children to school,” remarks Maria. “I have learned to use my full potential now. Yes, I was unable to finish my studies, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t work and earn for my family. I am slowly achieving my dreams for my family. And I wouldn’t stop striving hard until I see them get their college diploma.”

Learn more about CARE's economic empowerment work.