Merlyn joined ICM’s Transform program with the full support of her family, particularly her husband, Joel. The couple decided they would divide the household chores between them and he would care for their three children when Merlyn was attending Transform classes. Merlyn worked hard to complete her domestic tasks in the morning so that she could attend Transform in the afternoon. She brought her youngest son with her to the Transform classes, so she could simultaneously learn and care for the boy.
The health lessons taught Merlyn how to recognize illness in her children. When her son, Joshua, began having diarrhea, Merlyn knew he needed to stay hydrated and give him a homemade Oral Rehydration Solution. The ICM Health Trainer also provided Merlyn a Diarrhea Treatment Package and a fortified rice pack so Joshua could regain the weight he lost while he was ill. When her neighbor’s child caught the same bug, Merlyn was able to share her knowledge with the child’s distraught mother.
Merlyn also made changes to improve her family’s day-to-day wellbeing by introducing hygenic personal and environmental practices in the home. She makes sure that her children properly wash their hands before and after eating. Water is boiled before it is consumed. Merlyn has improved the family’s diet by growing vegetables in her small backyard. (See photo below)
The Business-in-a-Box classes taught Merlyn how to make toron (fried banana spring rolls) and vegetable lumpia (egg rolls). She rises early in the morning to make and sell her products. Her efforts provide the family US$5.56 a day. The additional income has allowed Merlyn to buy extra food and give her children a small allowance to spend at school. She plans to save more money through the savings group, which will go towards her children’s education.
Merlyn feels humbled and wants God to be seen in her actions and daily life. As she plants her garden, she is also planting seeds of hope and encouragement in the community.
ICM’s Transform program is a 16-week learning experience that expands the capabilities that the ultrapoor need to flourish. Weekly, ICM Health and Livelihood trainers join the pastor as they teach ICM’s interactive Values, Health and Livelihood curriculum.
By Jaspher Bolivar, ICM Communications Officer – General Santos