As a child, Gerlie wanted to attend school. Even at a young age, she knew that education was important. Gerlie’s parents, however, refused her request for an education because there was no money to cover the costs of transportation, shoes and the school uniform.
Wanting to escape the demands of her family, Gerlie married her husband Rowell while she was still in her teens. The couple were soon parents to two children. Rowell, the owner of a rice cake business, worked long hours in the futile effort to make ends meet. However, the daily income for the family of four was just US$0.14.
When asked by her local pastor to join ICM’s Transform program, Gerlie agreed because she was determined to change her life and improve the family’s income. She also discovered her favourite item to bake was rice cakes.
Gerlie and Rowell began rising early together, expanding the family rice cake vendorship. Their daily income rose substantially to US$1.49. The extra money has allowed the family to eat three healthy meals a day, repair their roof, and start saving for the future. Gerlie hopes the business will continue to flourish, providing the money for her young children to graduate from school.
Although Gerlie admits that life is still challenging on an emotional and physical level, she agrees that she has never been so filled with love and happiness. The partnership with Rowell has added a strong sense of unity to their marriage, and the knowledge that she is contributing to the family’s financial well-being fills Gerlie with a sense of accomplishment.
By Muriel Sirgi, ICM volunteer