Devoted mother and daughter to save for her family’s welfare through IAFFORD

Marianita uses an empty bottle of baby powder as her piggy bank.

Marianita uses an empty bottle of baby powder as her piggy bank. (Photo: IAFFORD)

“I learned the importance of saving from experiencing medical emergencies in our family. Now, I am glad that we are provided with a very accessible and better way to safe keep our money”, shares Marianita Magtarayo, a mother of three (in the local dialect).

Almost eight years ago, Marianita’s family faced one of the biggest challenges of their lives when her son was hospitalized for Hepatitis. As a mother, it was very difficult for her to see her son suffering and not knowing where to find the funds for his cure. “At that time, we didn’t have enough money for his hospitalization. Savings wasn’t in my vocabulary. I had to borrow money just to pay the bills and for medicine. It was a wake-up call for me on how important it is to keep aside even a small amount every now and then” she said.

After a year of starting to save up for her family’s needs, Marianita is now ready to shift from the traditional piggy bank to a more innovative way of saving. She sees herself growing with her family’s financial status through participating in the Inclusive and Affordable Financial Facilities for Resilient and Developed Filipinos (IAFFORD) Project. IAFFORD is a digital financial inclusion project lead by Oxfam, in partnership with PayMaya, Visa, and the Australian Government.

“Emergencies do not have a pre-announced day when it will strike. Fortunately, the IAFFORD project taught us how to save and grow our money. When I first heard about it, it seemed like a door was opened wide for us to become keener on saving.”

The project was introduced last August 2017 in Barangay Calinongan in Calbiga, Samar by Metro Ormoc Community Multipurpose Cooperative Inc. (OCCI), IAFFORD’s partner in Samar. Since then, more community members have seen its value and joined the project, growing from 100 participants in the first round to 209 currently.

Community financial services is now accessible, made convenient and secure

Marianita is also a loving and caring daughter to her 86-year-old mother who is blind. She supports her needs, particularly her medications.

“There are times that my siblings send financial help. I used to get the money that they send through remittance centres located in the heart of the town, a 30-minute ride from here, which costs PhP 50.00 (AUD1.24) back and forth,” she said. “But with IAFFORD, I don’t have to go far to the provincial capital to get the money sent by my siblings. It takes just a few steps to reach the Money In and Money Out (MIMO) centre in our village, which is our neighborhood sari-sari (mom and pop) store.”

For Marianita, the IAFFORD project has made financial services accessible. “IAFFORD is indeed beneficial for us here in Barangay Calinongan, it is very convenient and keeps our finances secure. As IAFFORD accredits ordinary mom and pop stores around the community to become MIMO centres, the MIMOs are not only our community goods and commodity store, but also our community financial services centre as well. They offer micro-deposits through loading up the pre-paid cards, cash withdrawal by being a cash-outlet and a money remittance centre which allows us to send and receive money from all-over the country.”

Saving for our families’ emergencies and investing in our welfare needs

For farmers like Marianita, there is limited assurance of having regular income. Their harvest is dependent on the unpredictable weather. There are times that they have to take out a loan from exploitative traders to cover urgent household needs.

“Scarcity of money is sometimes inevitable. Especially during emergencies, this is one of the major problems. There were times that the money we earned was not even enough to pay our debts,” Marianita laments. The micro-credit made available with IAFFORD and accessible by SMS is a feature that Marianita foresees will help marginalized farmers like her cope with financial needs during difficult times.

Marianita continues to appreciate the advantages of financial literacy and discipline, and is inspiring her children and peers on the importance of savings and insurance. Lately, she has been pondering on micro-insurance after learning more about it. “Since we are living in a flood-prone area, we should be considering insurance, and at the same time keep our money safe, rather than putting it in used baby powder bottles,” Marianita concluded. /ends/