Ecclesia of Women in Asia

Forum of Asian Catholic Women Theologians


This is a true  story  of the women  who, with the help of Action  for Nurturing Children  and  Environment, Inc (ANCE) and its partner, SVD Austria,  formed   Basic Ecclesial Communities ( BEC)   in the sitios of  Malinao and Negative now known as Bagong Buhay.

Carreta is one of the 48 barangays  in Cebu City  with poor supply of potable water,  pitiable sanitation,  houses  made  from  very light  materials and as small as 4 square meters and comfort rooms shared by 3 or more families. The residents in Negative  Barrio were  mostly  lepers from  Eversley Leprosarium back in the  early 50’s and 60’s. Most of their  women   are  descendants of these negative hansenites.  Don’t be surprised to see missing  fingers, hands or arms or toes and foot.

The  project, thru ANCE  aims to  assist the  families in meeting  the children’s  basic  needs such as education  and health.  This meeting of basic  needs is solidified   in the tenets of  the Catholic Faith  through the  BECs. With the BEC,  these  women are encouraged  to attend  Bible sharing sessions  once  week to  listen to the Word of God and share  their  faith life  experiences.  This  weekly  activity  aimed to solidify  their  bond, reinforce  their  relationships and  help them create a sense of  trust  and cooperation among them.  This is  important for the  success of the  other programs like scholarship,  feeding, savings & livelihood endeavors.  All these  are  done with their  participation as to  do  away with the dole  out  system.

“The  old belief of the  poor  is that they  are poor, and it  is the obligation of the rich to help them feed themselves. This is  a challenge  that  ANCE is facing and  trying to change. That  they  are  capable of  helping themselves  get thru their  poverty” according to  Fr. Maximo Abalos, SVD, Executive Director .

Through  their  livelihood endeavors, the members were encouraged to pool resources  to continue  the savings  mobilization. This was  implemented  with the hope that  the  poor will be  able to move  up  in the financial  ladder or be  diverted from the  skyrocketing interest from the  loan sharks.

With constant  encouragement and financial education,    the  members  diligently saved a  little of  their  earnings  each  week so  they were able to start their rice retail business. Barely  over  a year  in the rice  retail business, the members  have  received  their  share from patronage and from  dividends last October 2012. They received between 80.00 to 1,200 per member depending on their patronage and  savings or capital invested.  A happy Loleta Paquera said, “Kung magtibangay lang gyud diay ang mga pobre, makahaw-as  ra gyud ta sa atong  kalisod.  Wala  gyud  diay  ta  kalimti sa Ginoo pinaagi sa ANCE.”   ( When people cooperate and help each  other, we will never  remain poor.  God did not forget us for He helped us thru ANCE) They realized that when  people work  together  more things  can  be achieved.  From  the first  capital  of 6, 000 php  which was  loaned to them by ANCE, now  they are  working on a capital of 16, 000 php on a bi- monthly marketing.    

Since then, they are inspired to save more and the  group has  opened a credit facility scheme which  allows  members to avail of rice worth 75% of their  savings.  This enlarged their business income and  helped  members  on tight budget.     

Some of them availed of loans from their own savings to  start their  own small food businesses in the area. This livelihood endeavor  enriched their business abilities,  augmented the family budget and made them independent from the  loan sharks for money matters. “I am happy that my mother joined ANCE and is part of their  organization. Thru  her  work as  the retailer, our life  is not that difficult anymore.  Soon  I will graduate from  the university and we will no longer be as poor as we have been” a thankful Ethel Cambarijan said.

Now, their journey of nothingness is slowly fading as they are gaining a grasp of the  financial freedom they longed for all their lives.  ANCE continues with its  aspiration to  help them in their  quest to move from nada to yada.  Helping  them to fish rather than to wait for fish to be given.  


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