“Even if the pay was low, I accepted the money because of how hard life was for us.”

Corazón has spent decades working several jobs just to keep food on the table for herself and her children.

 
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A Never Ending Cycle

 

Even with working at an eatery in Murcia during the week, working on a neighbor’s farm, and doing laundry work on Saturdays, she still struggled to get by.

“I usually woke up at three in the morning,” she said. “It wasn’t even enough to cover for my child’s food allowance.”

Although she received aid from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), she used that money to put her children through school and had little left to cover necessities.

 
 

“I also resorted to borrowing money, yet it was never enough,” Corazón said.

 

A New Start

 

In 2016, Corazón was selected to join a Graduation project implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the Philippines in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and with technical assistance from BRAC UPGI.

 
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This pilot featured a one-time asset transfer, training on business planning, asset management, and savings practices, coaching, and linkages to community groups and cooperatives.

As part of her participation in the project, Corazón received two pigs and five sacks of feed along with training to help her develop her livelihoods. She has now entered into the fourth cycle of Swine Fattening Livelihood and sells free range chicken and turkey.

 
 

With the profits from these enterprises, Corazón has reinvested in her sari-sari store and earned enough to repay her loans completely.

 

Overcoming a World of Challenges

 

Even when faced with the severe shock of COVID-19, Corazón has utilized the skills and resources she gained through the Graduation project to maintain her family’s well being.

 
 

“During lockdown, the training helped me a lot since I was able to prepare for it,” she said.

Using pigs from her swine rearing livelihood, she butchered two and sold cooked food through her store. During the lockdown period, families in her barangay have often come to buy from her store because she keeps it so well-stocked.

“I no longer work for anybody,” Corazón said. “I focus on our business.”

 

A Family Affair

 

She has also started investing her profits in a savings account to help support her family in the face of future shocks.

 
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Her eldest daughter graduated from college with a degree in information sciences, and her youngest child is now in the eighth grade.

“I am no longer in debt, and our lives have been easier since then,” Corazón said.

 
 
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Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Corazón has used the training and support of the DOLE Graduation project to develop a sustainable livelihood to support her family and build a future resilient to extreme shocks.