“Ever since we were small, we lived a poor life. In a day, we would eat fish at least once. Most of the time, we would eat vegetables. The rest of the week, we would only be eating dried fish.” 

That was the life the 53-year-old Melanie lived before her life changed for the better. 

“Back then, we thought that was the normal life, but as we grew older, we realized that we could do more and strive to change our lives. It was when we were in school that we were exposed to this reality, that we could live a different life,” she said. 

Melanie spends time with her son, Given and takes care of his daily needs.

Melanie’s parents had a hard time raising all 11 of them, mainly because they were financially challenged. Melanie recalled the distant past when she was starting a family of her own. She decided to focus on just one child, her son Given, who is now in Junior high school. 

“As I established my own family, I decided to have just one child so that I can give my child my full attention,” shared Melanie as she knew the hardships it entailed in having a big family. 

Even if it is just one child or more, raising a kid is a challenge to any parent. And Melanie was not exempted from this. Wanting to provide for her family, she learned of Project Dungganon 

It was introduced to her years back, but she didn’t immediately apply. At first, all she did is observe and make herself knowledgeable of the processes or how it works. 

“Initially, I was skeptical about joining because I wanted to find out more about the project first. I asked myself these questions: Will joining help in my life? What are the advantages and disadvantages [of the project]?” said Melanie. 

For Melanie, joining would mean a commitment she had to keep for a period of time. She thought she might not be ready for it yet.  

But even though she hasn’t joined yet, she was eager to learn the process, “I wondered what microfinance is. Is it sustainable? I raised this question to my loan officer before. He told me that microfinance supports those who really need help, the poor, the mothers in the community to have an opportunity to help improve their lives through financial and non-financial support,” shared Melanie. Upon learning more about how it can support her and her family, she finally decided to join Project Dungganon. 

Melanie who is also one of NWTF’s center chief actively communicates with their Loan officer to make sure their center perform well.

She started a business hoping that this could change her life. She had to endure long and rough rides to the market to buy rice to resell in her community. “At first, I ventured into rice retailing and started with just ten customers. I would also sell fresh and dried fish or anything that my neighbors might need. During center meetings, I would bring food and sell it to other members. That way, I will have sure income for the day,” Melanie recounted. 

She also ventured into direct selling (Natasha, Avon, MSE, Boardwalk). She also sold frozen food, cookies and sold food that matches the weather. For instance, she cooks batchoy (beef noodle soup) during the rainy season and halo-halo (one of the Philippines’ most famous desserts) for the summer season. 

Using her experiences as an inspiration, she strived to improve her life and help her family and community.  

“I was given a chance to be a center chief, and through this, I was able to help my co-members. We would repeatedly read the 11 decisions, and after some time, many of us tried food vending, grew vegetables, and they would bring it weekly to the center meetings to sell. Even our loan officer before would buy from us,” Melanie proudly shared. 

She added: “I consider it an achievement every time I see my members learn and grow their business. I provide them guidance on how they can utilize their loans.” 

Little by little, she achieved her goals and the plans she has set for herself. “NWTF has greatly helped us; personally, it has helped me in a few of my investments — purchased a tricycle and motorcycle as a service for my businesses,” she said. 

Melanie prepares one of the products she sells during center meetings.

Melanie believes that for every dream or goal, there will always be sacrifices. She remembers if they wanted to buy something, they would first discuss it as a family. “For example, when we bought the tricycle, we cut on our expenses, and instead of eating beef three times a week, we ate it just once a week, just until we have enough to buy something to help in our business,” she explained. 

Savings is equally important to her, specifically when she has her eyes set on a goal, “I made sure to save at least one thousand pesos a week. My savings grew until I had 100,000 pesos which I used in buying a truck.” 

She feels really happy with what she has now. She learned that no matter how many dreams you have, you’ll never make it if you don’t have God in your mind. Melanie never forgot to thank God for everything that happened in her life. 

Aside from her close relationship with God, she shared that Dungganon has played an essential role in changing her life. “Dungganon has helped me improve my life, I may not have a big house, but I feel fulfilled with what I have at present. They were always there to provide us with opportunities, chances, and capital for business. Their help did not stop there because they conduct business training and lectures to support us,” she recalled.  

Melanie lives by the motto: Plan your work, and work your plan, in addition to the hard work and discipline that is needed to improve one’s life. She counts on Dungganon’s help to always be there for them as it always does.  

With everything she has achieved now, Melanie still has many dreams for her family, especially for her son. She works tirelessly with this in mind, “I never want my child to experience what I had experienced growing up. 

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