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A Heifer International project participant works at a food cooperative in the Philippines

Story by Jun Dom-oguen and Marifee A. Lucaney; Photos by Jun Dom-oguen

Over the past three months, Jane Lutong began to reap the fruits of her hard work and has gained empowerment through participation in Heifer International's project in Bauko and Sabangan, Philippines. Barely 10 months after receiving gifts from Heifer — including a gilt (a young female pig) — Jane was able to sell eight of the pig's offspring.

“I am lucky with the gilt I received because it costs more than the project budget per gilt, I added one thousand pesos to be able to get the gilt, which was really big and matured. True enough, just after the original placement celebration, the gilt already was in heat so I mated her immediately. She gave birth after four months and I fattened all the piglets," Jane says. "I sold eight of them which gave me a gross sale of [US $1,364] I still have one left in preparation for my pass on. I am again taking care of three piglets, which my mother pig gave me for the second time.”

Jane is a very active self-help group member, and she is very proud to say that she has perfect attendance at all the group's activities.

“I strongly believe that the success of the cooperative is due to the fact that they are living most of the cornerstones we learned from our project. These include full participation, accountability, sharing and caring, genuine need and justice, training and education and spirituality," she says. "There is also good leadership and all are committed to the cooperative vision. We have started with good foundations, which are Heifer’s Cornerstones.”

Jane is also a very active member of the Maggon Rural Improvement Club (RIC) in Maggon, her community. As a demonstration of her personal development, she was selected to represent Maggon to the National Organic Agriculture Congress in Baguio City in June. “I can’t believe that I was able to present the result of our earthworm composting project during the Congress to the Secretary of Agriculture of the Philippines. I was trembling at first but my self confidence really grew, thanks to our Heifer project, which honed my skills in public speaking. Who would have thought that a sixth grader in me could speak in public and teach others about a technical subject?” Jane said proudly with a big smile.

Jane used part of the proceeds from the sale of her pigs to renovate an old house inherited from her parents. As if the universe conspired to bring her luck, their Rural Improvement Club (RIC) project (called Barangay Food Terminal) was approved. She leased the renovated house to RIC for a very minimal amount. At the same time, Jane became the sales clerk of the terminal.

“I accepted the offer because I can still take care of my pigs while doing the job. I also practice what I learned from the recording and book keeping training I attended sponsored by Heifer International," Jane says. "I will only get 30% of the net income of the store, but it will help our self help groups as it will also serve as an outlet for our products — especially vegetables.”

Jane enthusiastically took on more duties, leading the monitoring of families and livestock to update information for each pass on. She reported that 20 families were ready to pass on in September based on the sizes of livestock offspring. “I will be happy if all the members of this project will be able to pass on gifts by November. The earlier the better so that other families will have the opportunity to receive gifts. It will also be an honor for our community if we pass on early,” Jane says.

Since Jane is also a member of the feed formulation group, she had the opportunity for a co-learning visit to the Sun Jin Feeds Milling factory in Bulacan. “My goal was to learn more about feed formulation, taking into consideration that Sun Jin feeds are better. True enough, I was able to see the processes of feed formulation from preparation to packaging. I was able to validate the facts we learned - that quality ingredients give quality feeds, and in formulating grower feeds, it is very important that crude protein should be 18% because if is less or more, pig growth will be affected. I think we are now really ready to formulate our own feeds.”

With several months to go before project completion, Jane continuously demonstrates the levels of impact Heifer wishes to see from the partner families. From a reserved mother, she is now gaining the respect of her fellow partner families as she is empowered to lead others by example and hone her skills and develop leadership capabilities, not only for her benefit, but in service of the community.

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that follows the progress of specific families, starting at the beginning of their work with Heifer. You can read the first post about Jane Lutong and her family here.

 

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