Story and Photo by Aimee Liz Malingan | Monitoring and Evaluation Officer | Heifer Philippines
Remy Inso Biasura, now 35, was a single mother to 11-year-old Debbie Mae. She supported herself and her daughter by selling fruit—but it was not enough to fully sustain them.
In 2005, she helped the Sumya-an Women's Association implement the Sharing Agri-livestock Resource and Enterprises Development (SHARED) project.
Remy joined the project in 2007 and received a gilt (young female pig), chickens, fruit and forest tree seedlings, corn and assorted vegetable seedlings. She participated in Heifer International's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development workshop, improved animal management training, simple bookkeeping and basic baking and meat processing training. Her favorite Cornerstones are self-reliance, sustainability and sharing and caring.
She and her husband Ruben, 41, are raising Debbie Mae and their other children, Justin Carlo, 6, and Mariah Divine, 4. The family lives in the Poblacion barangay of Sagada, a municipality of Mt. Province in Northern Philippines.
Sagada has a pleasant climate and mountainous landscape conducive for tourism. Ruben works as a skilled carpenter, but there are few opportunities for poor families to earn income—except for farming, paid labor and raising small livestock.
Heifer's gifts allowed Remy to save money and build her fruit sales into a small business. She got a business permit to regularly sell fruit in a strategic and busy location in town. She now earns a net income of about $120 per week.
Remy said the project also taught her how to save money, which has truly impacted her life. She and her husband have been able to set aside money for their children's education. And she improved their home through selling piglets and fatteners (pigs being prepared for slaughter). She even shared fatteners from the gilt's offspring with her mother.
She is an active member of her self-help group, which has evolved into a savings and loan group. Remy acts as the current treasurer and is proud of her updated books. She also helps new project participants in the Cornerstones Workshop.
Remy cheerfully said, "Since the income gained from swine raising is used to gain more income with my fruit business, I see myself as a fruit-bearing tree."