When Damiana and Danilo Ramos and their seven children found themselves in the midst of a conflict between the Communist National People’s Army and the Philippine government they knew they had to find somewhere else to live. “We might be caught between the government and the NPA. We were afraid for our lives and for our children,” said Damiana.
In 2001 they were able to move to the village of Simbalan, leaving nearly everything behind. They worked mostly clearing brush and weeding other peoples land. They borrowed some land to plant food for their family, and by 2002 they had saved enough money to buy a little over seven acres.
In 2007 they were selected to receive animals from Heifer: one carabao (a kind of water buffalo), two goats (1 doe and 1 buck), and one pig. They also received a variety of fruit trees: 8 lanzones, 21 rambutan, 21 mangosteen, 5 durian, 3 mango and 70 banana; some vegetable seeds: okra, string beans, etc.; and some farm equipment: a plow and a digging bar.
The Ramos family has always believed in hard work, and with the animals they received from Heifer they were able to dramatically increase their income. They are now earning more than double their previous annual income. Before Heifer came into their lives they were earning a little more than $1 USD per day, $464 USD per year, from selling piglets and bananas. Now they can sell yams and a variety of fruits and vegetables and they earn roughly $2.77 USD per day, or $1,012 USD (48,000 PHP) per year.
The Heifer trainings they received have also been an important part of their success. Damiana especially loves the Cornerstones. “We were taught special values through the Cornerstones,” Damiana said. She even named their carabao “Shela” which means Sharing, and named their doe “Karen” which means Caring.
We have grown closer.” “This project really helped our relationship a lot. After these trainings, especially the Cornerstones, we learned to understand each other."> Damiana, Phillipines
Heifer’s gender sensitivity training has helped Damiana and Danilo discover a new closeness. They have always loved each other, but this training helped them better understand each other and their children. “Before we were loving, but now it is even more,” said Danilo. “We have grown closer.” “This project really helped our relationship a lot. After these trainings, especially the Cornerstones, we learned to understand each other,” said Damiana.
Damiana is not worried about the future. She believes that with more hard work her family’s future is going to be bright. “I hope in the future I will pass on the carabao. We also hope our animals will multiply and we will have more money to send our children to school,” said Damiana. She knows that her animals are the key to her children’s future. “We have so many children and their future lies in our hands,” she said.
The Ramos family has journeyed a long way on the road to self-reliance, and with support from their faithful donors Heifer will be able to help many more families. Damiana knows that no gift is too small, and every gift is greatly cherished. “I know that people are experiencing a financial crisis, but there are still so many poor people. I believe the donors should continue supporting Heifer because even very small donations can help very poor people,” Damiana said.