|The Organisasyon sa Katawhang Mag-uuma sa Buenavista, May 2016. © IFI-VIMROD/Clagel Nellas 2016|
Based on a report by Clagel N. Nellas, July 2016
Anacel Galendez is 36 years old and a mother of three children. For the longest time, she believed that once a woman is married, she is destined to stay at home and serve her family. It is a cultural belief that is common throughout the Philippines’ rural communities, like the one Anacel grew up in.
During 2012, she became a member of the Organisasyon sa Katawhang Mag-uuma sa Buenavista (literally meaning ‘Organisation of Many Farmers in Buenavista’), a small community action organisation which started after a visit from ABM’s Partner in the Philippines, IFI-VIMROD*. The group was eager to work together to improve the incomes of their members, attracting the hopes of Anacel and her husband, who lived on so little.
|Anacel Galendez explains the OKMB strategic plan during an ABM visit
in May 2016. © IFI-VIMROD/Clagel Nellas 2016
Whilst attending several of the community education sessions that IFI-VIMROD provided, Anacel heard some very different ideas. She was expecting to learn only about economic opportunities that could increase their family income, but she soon realised that there was more in store for her. Anacel learned in these sessions that women have equal rights with men. She learned that women’s contributions are extremely beneficial to the national economy, and that she could be productive in all economic, political and cultural aspects of her society.
Having attended the training sessions, Anacel became more confident to share her opinions in front of the group. Her colleagues even elected her as the chairperson of the organisation in 2014, although she was reluctant to take the role. Even though OKMB began strongly, the organisation had slowly stagnated, beset by structural problems and indecision. By 2014, the initial membership of 24 had dwindled to just 11, and the organisation was on the verge of falling apart. Those who remained feared that if none of the members were able to save OKMB, all their efforts and the input from IFI-VIMROD would have been in vain.
Under Anacel’s leadership, the group assessed their situation until all the gaps were identified. They then brainstormed some creative solutions, and through IFI-VIMROD education on Asset-based Community Development (ABCD) developed a strong business concept. A proposal was written expressing their ideas, and presented to IFI-VIMROD and ABM for a possible funding grant.
|Lina Magallanes, ABM Philippines Coordinator, enters the OKMB
business building. © IFI-VIMROD/Clagel Nellas 2016
In 2015, ABM granted the OKMB with the necessary funds for their ABCD project, called ‘Moringa tea and capsule production and marketing’. Over a year later, Anacel says this project was instrumental in reviving their organisation. There was a genuine sense of ownership and commitment, because it was the group alone who had conceptualized the project and wrote the proposal. “The project nurtured unity” Anacel said.
Sales from the locally developed tea and capsule products have provided the OKMB members with an additional daily income of Php30.00 to Php60.00 – quite a handy complement to small rural wages! Women particularly have benefited from this work, as their new income enables them to buy additional food and basic commodities for their families.
There has also been a significant attitudinal change, especially amongst women who used to be hooked on gambling as a recreation. Anacel explains, “This project made us even more productive as we became busy attending to the project and organizational activities.”
These changes have been evident to the whole community, and has resulted in an explosion in membership. From 11 people in 2014, membership increased to 35 in 2015, then to 45 in 2016. And there are no signs of slowing down! Anacel is expecting membership to increase even more, and is looking for ways to market their products further afield. She said;
“The marketing of our products was essential to the project’s success. We realized that we needed to introduce our products to the macro environment. We started off with some of the municipal government officials and workers as buyers, until we were able to reach to other municipalities. Currently, OKMB has more than a hundred regular buyers of moringa tea and capsules.”
ABM is proud to support women like Anacel in achieving their goals and realizing their potential. To read more about the ABCD Economic Empowerment project or donate towards this work, please click here.