A boat and fish nets for senior widowed citizens!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 12:43

Let me introduce you to five wonderful women who are all senior citizens and widows living in a small island home to 173 families accessed by a short boat ride from Culasi Town. Bernadita Placido (63), Angelina B. Macuja (73), Marta Victoriano, (68), Epifania Macuja (63) and Lorenza Dayo (79) all received materials to construct fishing boats and 300 meter fishing nets each after Typhoon Haiyan locally known as Yolanda destroyed almost all of the islands fishing boats and the majority of the houses along the shore line.

Bernadita, Angelina, Marta, Epifania and Lorenza are between 63 and 79 years old, and have lived on the island all their lives. They are all widows and are the main breadwinners in their families; some live alone, while others have children living with them but they don’t have jobs. Before Haiyan (Yolanda), none of the families had a fishing boat. Once or twice a month they would borrow a boat from neighbours or relatives to go fishing, but everyone on the island relies on fishing and they felt shy to ask people more than this. The rest of the time to make a living they would collect shell fish (spending 2-3 hours they would be able to gather enough to sell for maximum 30 pesos) or sea weed (making around 30 pesos per day).

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Now things have changed as all of them will own the boats provided by WeDpro, which will be registered in their names. They said that they are planning to sometimes to go on their new boats themselves to help with the nets when they are in shallow water, the rest of the time the boats will be operated by their children or other people in the community. They will be able to catch on average of 5-10 kilos of fish each day, which they will sell to a wholesaler from Culasi for 80 pesos per kg, making 400-800 pesos per day. This will be divided 50/50 between the boat owner, and the people who go out on the boat to fish.

When asked how they felt about the new boats, the instant answer was "Happy!" The boats will allow them to have a source of livelihood so that they can support their everyday needs- most importantly it will allow them to buy rice. They said that when they have the boats they will be able to eat properly 3 times a day. At the moment they often have to limit breakfast to a local porridge because they can’t afford rice.

The five women who are the bread winners of their families were given priority by the community as they are the most vulnerable women on a consultation meeting WeDpro, ActionAid’s local partner, organized to identify materials needed and how to distribute. On the consultation meeting the community living in the small island also stressed the need for large fishing nets so that people would be able to catch enough fish each day to make a decent profit.

They told WeDpro-ActionAid that while some families had received boats from private donors after Haiyan(Yolanda), these boats were extremely small, fitting only one person, and were not big enough to carry the weight of a net. People were using these boats for line fishing or spear fishing in shallow waters, but they were not able to catch much fish. The community therefore told WeDpro-ActionAid who are working to restore livelihoods on the island to design larger boats and to provide big nets to bring about a sustainable change in their lives.

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