In 2016, we celebrated the graduation of our 750,000th Transform family member. Her name is Mary Sunshine and her story is told in this video:
Mary Sunshine and her family live in ultrapoverty. Mary Sunshine’s husband, Ryan, earns about US$34.88 (PHP 1,500) per week working with tires, not nearly enough to look after the small family’s financial needs. And Mary Sunshine was so afraid to reach out to others. Starting as early as when they had children nine years ago, she would isolated herself, stayed inside the house most of the time, and focused only on the needs of her husband and children. Life was tough as it seems there are no options to change the course of their lives.
However, when the local pastor invited the 29-year-old to join ICM’s Transform program, Mary Sunshine was excited to learn about livelihood opportunities that could contribute to the family’s income, though wasn’t expecting her life to drastically change.
During the 16-week program, Mary Sunshine developed friendships with other participants, the very neighbors she used to hide from. When the ICM Livelihood Trainer taught the group to make puto cheese (steamed rice) cakes, Mary Sunshine thought she might be interested in baking and selling the treats. However, she didn’t have the confidence to start a business until her younger sister requested 200 small cheese cakes for a birthday party.
Mary Sunshine’s self-worth grew when, after sampling the tasty treats, the party guests placed puto cheese orders with her. For every order of puto cheese, she earns up to US$2.32 (PHP 100).
More positive changes soon followed. Mary Sunshine joined the local community Savings Group to invest in more cooking equipment. As the secretary of the savings group, Mary Sunshine is committed to saving for her business and is also setting money aside for the family to build their own toilet.
When Mary Sunshine gave birth to her third child near the end of the Transform program, she immediately used the infant care knowledge she learned in the Health lessons. She is careful to keep her home clean, and knows what solid food will keep the baby healthy when she is able to eat. She also knows how to treat minor illnesses the family may contract to prevent contamination or further sickness. “If they have symptoms of fever I have already an idea on what to do to prevent it from getting worse,” Mary Sunshine proudly shared.
Mary Sunshine has improved not just her family’s livelihood, but her own life. The mother-of-three now has supportive friends, practical solutions, and a full schedule.
“I am really happy – especially with our savings group. And I’m excited about our business plans. Thank you very much. You did not help only a few people. You taught us how to improve our business later on.”
In 2016-17, ICM is targeting to operate Transform programs in 975 communities across our 10 bases throughout the southern two-thirds of the Philippines.
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 Jenefer G. Sarrosa, ICM Communications Officer and Staci Atkinson, ICM Reporting Officer