These mothers, who used to stay at home, now earn income for their respective families through the group business they opened through DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

In a village blessed with the gift of the sea, 16 mothers have found the opportunity to better reap its benefits.

Through the years, their families have been relying on the sea to provide for their needs. Never have they thought that with one business plan and a collective effort among them, they’ll get a bigger catch and a better chance to improve their lives.

In February 2016, 16 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Brgy. Caridad Ilaya in Atimonan, Quezon Province, formed a group under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The SLP is one of the core poverty reduction programs of the DSWD that provides income-generating opportunities to help improve the economic sufficiency of poor individuals and families.

After a series of training and planning, the group, called the Magsikap Fishing Boat SLP Association, was awarded with PhP160,000 capital assistance, which they used to start a medium-scale fishing business. They bought a motorized boat, and in March 2016, a start of a new routine took place, which also marked the start of a lot of opportunities for all of them.

Earning money for their families

Roelyn Marquez, one of the beneficiaries, shared that they used to be housewives who relied on their husband’s income to support their family. Some of them help with the finances through assisting their husbands in the preparation of fishing gears.

But with the start of their fishing business, all of them found opportunities to earn something for their families.

Arlene Custosa, 51, the treasurer of the association, shared how this became possible.

“Once a week naglalaot ang bangka namin. Bago umalis ang bangka, lahat kami ay nagtutulong-tulong sa pagsisimpi (preparation of their basket fishing gear) na gagamitin sa panghuhuli ng isda,” Arlene said.

All the mothers involved in this preparation are paid PhP260 per day, which is a big help for them who used to stay at home before.

“Napakalaking tulong sa amin na nagkakaroon kami ng pagkakakitaan. Dahil dito, tuloy-tuloy ang aming kita para sa aming pamilya,” said Rodelyn Caramihan, 37, another beneficiary.

Earning together

While the mothers are busy with the ‘pagsisimpi,’ Arlene’s family takes charge of preparing all the other needs such as food of the three fishermen, ice, baits and gasoline.

In their coastal community, all of them working together is a picture of one community dreaming together to improve their lives. The days of the preparation not only means an additional income for their respective families but also means a great bonding opportunity for all of them. These are the times when they can share stories, plans and dreams.

After two days of ‘pagsisimpi,’ their boat goes to sea. Three nights after, their boat returns, and another set of tedious tasks face them.

“Pipiliin at aayusin namin ang mga isda, tapos dinadala namin sa bayan para ibenta. ‘Yung aming pinagbentahan, ibabawas namin lahat ng ginastos mula sa gas, yelo, bayad sa mga nagsisimpi at pagkain. Ang matitira, aming pinagpaparte sa tatlo,” said Arlene.

In the three parts of their income, one-third goes to the association. The other parts are divided by the three fishermen who manned the boat for the last three nights.

“Nasisiguro namin na sa bawat pag-alis ng aming bangka, mayroon kaming kinikita. Amin itong gagamitin para patuloy na mapalago pa ang aming nasimulang negosyo,” shared Arlene.

Once the revenue has been secured, everyone is faced with the same process again—that is helping with the preparation of the fishing gears, bonding with friends and earning money for their families.

For the 16 of them, the process of doing their business has opened a lot of opportunities, especially for mothers like them.

With the dream of changing the course of their lives for the better, all of them are grateful that they were provided with an opportunity to get more from the sea, be productive mothers and most of all, dream bigger for their future.#