“I never thought the program would be this fun,” said Jeramie of ICM’s Transform program.
Jeramie had many reasons why she was too busy to attend Transform: she was working in the fields with her husband and helping earn money for the family, she was pregnant with her third child and taking care of her nephew whose parents has moved abroad to find work. Jeramie’s days were full and tiring. Typical of those living in ultra poverty in ICM areas, Jeramie and her husband Jose earn less than US$0.50 a day.
However, many of her friends had signed up to attend Transform, so the 34-year-old tagged along to the first session as a visitor. By the end of the first lesson, Jeramie had learned so much that she enrolled in the four month class. Even on days she had to work out in the sun helping with harvest, Jeramie made sure she went to each of the weekly meetings.
Her determination paid off. The only income for the family before was during harvest season and occasionally when Jose could find other work. Jeramie wanted to keep her two children in school and provide for her newborn. As for her nephew – Jermaie loves him as her own and wants him to stay in their home.
After Transform, Jeramie’s weekly income increased by US$6.00 as she learned to cook and sell snacks in her community.
She has been able to put US$0.40 a week into the savings group she started with fellow Transform participants. With her personal savings, Jeramie was able to buy cooking tools like a steamer and pots so she can cook and sell more.
Proudly, Jeramie reflects on her entrepreneurial endeavor, ‘My new business helps me big time because through it I can provide food to my family and it strengthens my relationship with them.’
Transform’s health lessons also equipped Jeramie with more knowledge to help her prevent and treat minor illnesses in the family. She learned about signs of tuberculosis, and how herbs and leaves can be used to cure or manage illnesses. To prevent disease, she now boils water for the family to drink.
Her husband, Jose, also quickly saw the benefit of Jeramie’s learning. She confessed to being irritated with her husband—especially on days when he could not find work. Instead of nagging him, Jeramie applied the lessons she had learned in the Values classes, “I started to try and understand and support him,” she said. In response, Jose started helping prepare snacks with Jeramie. The couple’s marriage is stronger now that they are spending time together and working alongside each other.
Jeramie also is surrounded with a strong support system to encourage her. ‘Since my neighbors and friends attended the program, we decided to discuss and share our ideas.’ Her savings group will help Jeramie save for her children’s education and ensure Jeramie’s nephew can stay with the family.
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 Rizia A. Ambrosio, ICM Communications Officer