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She may not have Willy Wonka's top hat and magnificent factory, but Nena has achieved her own measure of success as a candy-maker in the Philippines. Her candies, made from the fruit of the tamarind tree, have helped her provide for the four kids living under her roof – not only food and a refuge from the outside world, but also money for education.
"Education is the best gift we [parents] can give our kids," Nena said.
The 45-year-old mother had run a variety store as well as her candy-making business before joining a loan group set up by Five Talents' partner, the Center for Community Transformation (CCT).
"There were CCT members in the church I attended, but [for years] I opted not to join their program. Eventually, I joined out of curiosity and with a lingering long-term goal for my small business. There was an increasing demand for my candies in the market, but producing it drained my start-up capital, therefore limiting my supply. A small loan, I believed, would go a mile" in helping to expand the business.
Nena's first loan of 4,000 Philippine Pesos ($97) helped her to better meet the market demand for her Tamarind candies. As in all of Five Talents' programs, Nena also received training that helped her develop her business more strategically. Today, she is on her 20th loan cycle. Her most recent loan was for 20,000 Philippine Pesos ($485).
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The end of the year is fast approaching. But the road out of poverty is long and hard.
In order to continue meeting our commitments to micro-entrepreneurs in places like Bolivia, South Sudan and Myanmar, Five Talents needs your support.
For an example of how your generosity can change a whole community, look no further than this project in Malakal, South Sudan, where over 10,000 participants have been given what is often their first opportunity to become literate and numerate.
For stories of individual lives transformed, look no further than those of Rosma in the Philippines, Narcisa in Peru, and Roda in Sudan.
Here are five ways you can make a tax-deductible donation and help us keep these women – and tens of thousands of others – on the road out of poverty:
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Several years ago, Rosma, a 55-year-old mother of six in Manila, Philippines, sat down with her husband to discuss that favorite topic of married couples: finances.
To continue paying for their kids' education, they needed to generate additional income beyond the husband's work and her own small variety store. The most feasible idea involved turning extra space in their home into two small rooms that they could rent out. To do this, though, they would need still more money.
When you hear Rosma talk about the business decisions she made next, it's easy to see why her kids respect her so much.
A friend had told her about Five Talents' local partner, the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), so Rosma decided to join a savings and loan group. But instead of using her first micro-loan on the remodeling project, she chose to invest into her variety store. By expanding her offerings, she generated more profit, which she then began to save.
After subsequent loan cycles, she had added to her pool of savings and eventually invested a portion of what she'd accumulated into the remodeling project. Soon, they had two renters, and two new sources of income. But then Rosma had another idea.
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We're excited to share with you our 2011-2012 Annual Report for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Click here to download the PDF.
In the report, you'll find all of the latest financial figures and program statistics, as well as stories, photos and highlights from every one of Five Talents' programs.
The report also features beautiful illustrations from one of our volunteers, Laura Bauder. So a great big thank-you to Laura, who also took on the task of designing the report.
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Editor's note: Five Talents' local partners play a key role in ensuring the success of our programs – and also the transformation of their own communities. This is the second post in a two-part series by guest blogger Valerie Malabonga, who shares about her experience providing toys and clothes to children served by Five Talents' partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Click here to read Part 1, which explains the back-story of Valerie's project.
As I shared on Tuesday, my son and I sent six large boxes to several groups of children in the Philippines. These precious children have corresponded with me so I wanted to share their heart-warming stories and thanks. Below, you'll find their photos, along with brief descriptions of their stories and backgrounds.
The photos are courtesy of Five Talents' partner in Manila, the Center for Community Transformation. Permission was granted by CCT to share the names, stories and photos of the children.
Children and adults from the street dwellers' drop-in center read the donated Tagalog books.
Patrick (in the middle, with blue shirt and gray shorts), Jervie (at the back, partially covered in green shirt doing a V-sign) and the other teenage boys from Magdalena House of Friendship hold their balikbayan box.
Patrick is a 15-year old boy who, with his mom, lived in the streets of Manila for a year. He rummaged through trash cans and learned to steal just to have something to eat. Now Patrick is one of the leaders at the Magdalena House of Friendship, CCT's boarding school for teenage boys learning trades or completing the Philippines' equivalent of a GED. Patrick plays soccer and hopes to be a pastor or architect someday. (For Patrick's complete story, click here.) In eloquent Tagalog, Patrick thanked our family for the books, because these are helping him and the other boys learn important things. He prayed for God's blessing and protection for my family.
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Editor's note: Five Talents' local partners play a key role in ensuring the success of our programs – and also the transformation of their own communities. This is the first post in a two-part series by guest blogger Valerie Malabonga, who shares about her experience providing toys and clothes to children served by Five Talents' partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Click here to read Part 2, featuring a photo essay along with the stories of some of the children who received Valerie's gifts.
On May 19, 2011, I was at the Five Talents office in Vienna, VA to hear Ruth Callanta speak about her work with the Filipino poor. Ruth Callanta is the president of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), one of the partners of Five Talents in the Philippines. Ruth shared many stories, but what touched me most was her story about how she and CCT started helping the homeless (CCT calls them street dwellers) in the Philippines. Day after day, as she drove to the CCT office, she saw families living on the pavements of Taft Avenue, a major street in Manila. She described them as "looking like stray animals". One day, she could not take it any longer so she stopped her car and cried out to God. "Lord, what can I do to help these people?" It turned out that one of the board members of CCT already had a ministry feeding the and sharing the gospel with street dwellers at nearby Luneta Park. Long story short, Ruth and CCT's work with street dwellers has been so successful that they are now advising the Philippines' Department of Social Welfare and Development on best practices to help street dwellers.
I grew up in and worked with the poor in the Philippines before moving to the US twenty one years ago, so I asked Ruth at the end of the meeting, "My family has stuff to give away, may I send those to you in a balikbayan box?" Balikbayan boxes are the ubiquitous care boxes that Filipino immigrants send to their families in the Philippines. My extended family members are always thrilled to receive these boxes. Ruth said yes. So my now 7-year old son, Julius, and I assembled items from our house and collected more from other moms. My son added calendars with his picture and a note for the children. We sent six large boxes to the drop-in center for street dwellers, the former street-dweller children now living in a boarding school, and children from two indigenous people's groups -- the B'laan (pictured here) and Tagakaolo -- at another school. I also coordinated with three other organizations to send the CCT beneficiaries new Tagalog and bilingual books, and footwear.
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This is the final post in a three-part series by Joseph Paulini, a businessman and entrepreneur based in northern Virginia who recently co-led a Business as Mission trip to the Philippines, where Five Talents is seeking to deepen its work with proven micro-entrepreneurs. Click here to read parts one and two.
Two hundred and seventy-five miles to the north of Manila, after a 13-hour trip by automobile through the high mountain provinces, we had the pleasure of returning to the village of Besao.
Five Talents' former President and CEO Craig Cole and I first visited there in 2002 to witness the funding of another cooperative. It was a beautiful remote village tucked between two mountains sloping downwards into a valley filled with terraced rice paddies tended to exactly as they have been for millennia. The townspeople would gather to stand knee deep in cold water all day planting the rice seedlings. The only communication outside the village was with a short-wave radio.
Roosters and chickens roamed at will and every home had a piggery under it. We stayed in their homes, ate chicken, rice and vegetables with our hands off plates and washed up in the morning outside in the mountain air from a cold-water spigot. Surely, I thought, this would be a tremendous stretch to make anything happen here.
Oh, me of little faith.
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Our Weekly Window features a photograph taken by Joseph Paulini, an entrepreneur in northern Virginia who recently led a Business As Mission (BAM) trip to the Philippines.
Having worked in the country since 2002, Five Talents is now setting up an advanced business skills training program for established micro-entrepreneurs in partnership with George Mason University's School of Management.
"Even though we were at first focused on helping businesses get started with loans ranging from $50 to $300, we knew that some would grow beyond the mom and pop store, level," wrote Joseph in a recent guest blog post about Five Talents' early microfinance work in the Philippines. "The wonderful news is that some indeed did, and now we are preparing to give them the extra support that they desperately need."
The photo here shows just a few of the elaborate terraces that farmers in the country use to produce grain and vegetables in mountainous terrain.