Happy International Women’s Day! Today, we celebrate women making extraordinary impact by standing up to say, “I can be better. I will not remain in poverty!”
Though she had lived in ultra-poverty all her life, Hazel was determined to succeed against all odds. At 33, and with four children, her journey with International Care Ministries empowered her to complete a life-long dream: earning a university degree in Secondary Education and graduating cum laude of her class.
“Neighbors and women around me would tell me I should just be content and stay at home. But I wanted a better life for my children. I wanted my life to have a purpose. I knew nothing was going to change if I didn’t do anything about it,” Hazel shares. Despite the challenges in life, she perseveres to be a woman making extraordinary impact in the world and the community where she lives.
Hazel and her husband sold bundles of wood and charcoal for P3 (US$0.05 cents) each, while he struggled to find a more stable source of income. In 2013, a super typhoon wiped out their home leaving them with nothing. But all these only made Hazel more determined to seek out a better life.
In 2015, ICM launched Transform in her community and Hazel was one of the participants. She learned how to make and sell steamed rice cake snacks and joined a Savings Group. The following year, Hazel felt ready to chase her dream of getting a college degree.
To support her studies, Hazel sold her steamed rice cakes at school for transportation money, while using profits and loans from her Savings Group to meet her family’s needs. But the journey was not easy. Hazel had to juggle family life and her studies, while constantly trying to make ends meet. She represents women making extraordinary impact on the lives of people around them.
“There were times when I thought I wouldn’t make it. And there were times when I almost quit. It was a long and difficult journey. But I finally did it!” Hazel recalls. She graduated top of her class with honor recognitions all throughout her four years in college.
With a degree in hand and a desire to give back, Hazel applied for a job at ICM’s field office in her province. Today, Hazel works as one of ICM’s health trainers, assuring participants that there is hope for a better life.
“I used to be a participant myself. Now, I tell them that poverty is not a hindrance, unless you work hard you will never go far,” Hazel shares. This International Women’s Day, women like Hazel are worth celebrating!