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Story and Photos by Nieva Pernites | Program Officer | Heifer Central Philippines

Lilia, 38, and Veronico "Titing" Monter, 44, live on a one acre farm in a remote barangay in Macrohon, Southern Leyte, with their three daughters, ages 3, 8 and 10, and 16-year-old son. They are part of the Food Secured and Sustainable Livelihood through Values-Based Development Approach for Small Farmers of Macrohon project, co-funded by Heifer International and the Organization for International Cooperation on Development Projects (DISOP), a Belgian funding organization, and implemented by Mag-uugmad Foundation Inc. (MFI).

Since joining the project in January 2012, the Monters have received trainings on Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, sustainable agriculture, savings and credit, and improved animal management. In June 2012, immediately after completing the trainings, the family received a pregnant cow, vegetable seeds, forage and legumes in an original placement ceremony.

"I am very grateful for all the things the project has given us, the trainings and tangible gifts, but there is one thing I am most grateful for that even if the project ends it will stay with us – I saw the change in my husband," Lilia said. "Before the project, he spent most of his time drinking with his friends. But looking at him now, I cannot help but smile. He wakes up early to tend to our farm and livestock; he also makes sure to involve the children. It has become a family affair."

The family has implemented lessons they learned from various Heifer capacity-building activities. Lilia and Titing use their cow’s waste as fertilizer and vermicast from vermiculture in their farming practices. Their livestock have a nice shelter and plenty of forage and legumes, which the family has grown. But what makes Lilia optimistic for their children's future is the income they earn from their farm to buy food and other basic needs. Aside from sufficient and healthy food for the family, their vegetable garden alone now provides an average monthly income of 4,000 Philippine pesos, or about $100. Training on savings and credit encouraged them to save money. So far, their savings has enabled them to purchase a calf worth 6,000 Philippine pesos, or about $150. They have future plans to buy a horse, which will help them haul water and farm produce to the market. "I have also saved some money for my children's education," Lilia said. "Their future seems brighter now."

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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.