Elena and her family of six live in a house without electricity, and collect their water from a small well several hundred feet away. Her husband, Jose, has been unable to work after suffering a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side of his body. Elena contributed to the family’s income by burning wood to make coal as well as tending a small garden. Although she enjoyed gardening, she was unsure how to make the most of her plants. Every day was about survival.
When she was invited to participate in ICM’s Transform program, Elena felt it was a perfect opportunity to learn more about who God is and hopefully become a kinder mother and better person. If she could earn a bit more money while becoming a better person, that would be wonderful too.
During the 16-week course, Elena had the opportunity to put into practice what she learned from the Values lessons when a family member was spreading rumors and causing hurt among the family. Instead of retaliating, Elena chose to forgive. Elena feels she has become more gentle and built a better relationship with her children.
She has also gained valuable knowledge to keep her family safe from infections. The health lessons taught Elena how to purify well water to keep her children infection free. She has also benefited from learning how to use herbs in medicine, and she can now prepare a cough remedy using margosa (neem) leaves.
From the livelihood training, Elena is now more advanced in her gardening skills and is able to make organic fertilizer to ensure her monthly harvests are plentiful. She plans to reinvest the sales of her vegetables by buying vegetable and corn seeds for the future expansion of her garden.
Elena knows she can be victorious in her daily life by working hard to make a difference.
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 Muriel Sirgi, ICM volunteer