Transforming lives in Mindanao during COVID-19

When Elizabeth and Mary Ann, both residents in Mindanao, joined Transform, back in February, they had no idea how much help it would be during this difficult year, even though the program was forced to stop halfway through because of the pandemic.


Elizabeth has a large family with thirteen children, their spouses, and eight grandchildren. Understandably, they struggled to keep food on the table during the COVID-19 quarantine period in Mindanao when they couldn’t work. “We could get food but only enough for one meal a day,” Elizabeth explained. “We just shared whatever we had so we could survive each day.”


Pastor Mario, one of our partner pastors, was concerned for the Transform participants. He visited the family and brought ICM food packs and seeds for them to plant so they could have an ongoing food source.  


As soon as it was safe, the Transform lessons started again! This time around, there was lots of handwashing, face masks, and social distancing along with the lessons.


At each lesson, Elizabeth received a bag of rice which went right on the table. But what she learned became even more important to Elizabeth who was eager to protect her family’s health. “Now I know how to cook a vegetable menu that my children will love. The veggie balls dish that you taught in our livelihood class is simple but nutritious food.”


Mary Ann, another participant from Koronodal, was also overjoyed when she heard Transform was starting up again almost a half a year after it had begun. Alongside the practical, they also received rice to help feed their families. After learning about snack-making, pricing, and rolling capital, she started selling her baked goods to workers at a nearby pineapple farm to bring in much-needed income.


“My family’s situation now is the same as other families here. We are doing our best to feed our family members despite there being a pandemic,” Mary Ann said. “Thank you very much for extending your help to the families of the Transform program recipients. We really felt your care for us through the ICM staff who continued to come here every week.”


The Philippines is still dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks and a shaky economy, so Elizabeth and Mary Ann’s struggles are not over. But now they have the knowledge and tools to protect their family’s health and ideas of how to earn money.


They are proof that education can change lives! 

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