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Story and Photos by Karla Narcise-Rodulfo | PME Manager | Heifer Philippines

When voices unite around a message, the message will be heard. When project members advocate for themselves, they are transformed, becoming confident and empowered. They become leaders in their communities, teaching others what they have learned. The selfless display of dedication, support and compassion by 28 Igorota Foundation, Inc. project partner families demonstrates how the once-meek members came to surpass feelings of self-doubt and inferiority.

Meet the volunteer trainers of Igorota Foundation, Inc. (IFI) projects—Women Initiated Sustainable Entrepreneurship though Gifts, Integrity, Values and Environmental Restoration (WISE GIVER) and Integrating Gift-giving and Organizing for Over-all community Transformation Attainment (IGOROTA)—in the Northern Philippines. They are the original, first and second generation pass-on families of the two Heifer subprojects. The WISE GIVER project ended its active life in June 2011, but the families continue to generously share their knowledge and wisdom with the IGOROTA project's original and pass-on families, participants of other Heifer-funded projects in Mt. Province, and outside communities. They are often asked to conduct workshops on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, where they teach about animal management and savings and assisting the community.

The original families of the WISE GIVER project started it all.

“They were all reserved at first," Jun Dom-oguen, a Heifer program officer, shared. "You really had to ask them to speak their minds. Seldom would they volunteer. But soon after they understood the Cornerstones, they began to share, discuss among themselves and volunteer to share their ideas. We have seen so many potential speakers and facilitators among them, so we asked them to assist in the Cornerstones workshop for the pass-on families. Now, even some original families of IGOROTA are trainers themselves.”

With knowledge, families are empowered to sustain themselves and multiply the gifts exponentially—the IGOROTA SHG training pool just proved it.

“They are very dedicated and serious about improving their craft,” Marifee Lucaney, community facilitator for WISE GIVER and IGOROTA projects, shared. “When they are assigned a topic, they review, research and internalize it. Now, we have facilitators who specialize in a particular topic. Having self-help group members facilitate a workshop for families is more effective, because these families are neighbors. The teachers speak from the heart, sharing their own experiences, and prove to their neighbors that indeed everything is possible."

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Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.