Bebelyn stopped schooling when she found out that her family did not have enough money for her to continue. At the age of sixteen, she was forced to work in sugarcane plantations where she worked long hours under the scorching heat of the sun using tools to cut weeds between cane plants in order to earn one USD a day.
Like Bebelyn, her husband Edgar also stopped schooling at the age of eight and worked in the sugarcane plantations. They live in Pantao, Mabinay, Negros Occidental and have three children namely: Edmark, 12; Bemar, 11; and Edrian, 1.
Bebelyn’s family is one of the households assisted by ABK3 LEAP through World Vision. She is happy that her children were given school supplies and school uniforms. Aside from that, awareness raising activities are also conducted in the community so that parents like her are made aware about child labor and the hazards and impacts of hazardous work to children.
Through Community Economic Ventures, Inc. (CEVI), the microfinance partner of ABK3 LEAP, household beneficiaries like Bebelyn’s family are provided with loans to start small scale enterprises. Bebelyn was able to avail a loan worth 90 USD with only 1.5 percent interest per month and used it to raise pigs and buy fertilizers for her corn farm. “Before, I was forced to borrow money around my neighbourhood with an interest rate of ten percent especially during emergency situations like when my children got sick,” she recalled.
When Bebelyn became a borrower of CEVI, she was encouraged to do well at her livelihoods so she can repay her loan and provide the needs of her children. At CEVI, women like Bebelyn are trained on how to handle money and grow their livelihoods. Moreover, they also receive important services such as medical insurance and savings.
“I want my children to finish their schooling and have a brighter future. I don’t want them to experience what I experienced when I was their age,” Bebelyn said. Edmark, her eldest, has just graduated in elementary and wants to be a teacher. Bemar, her second, is an incoming grade six student and wants to be a mechanic.
Bebelyn has already finished repaying her first loan. She decided to take another hoping that she can use it to expand her livelihood. Bebelyn is happy that World Vision and CEVI are working together in helping her community’s economy grow and reducing child labor in the sugarcane farms as well. To date, CEVI has reached a total of 1,211 ABK3 households, 93% of which are women.
Story and Photos by CEVI