These are some words associated with the goals of a livelihood project. Many of ISM’s service partners sell various products outside the cafeteria, yet their merchandise often goes ignored by hungry students who barge right past them without much notice at lunchtime. In actual fact, a huge amount of time and effort is put into making these products, in order to generate sustainable work for poor communities living under minimum wage.
However, do these projects truly sustain communities in the long run? Jeepney Magazine, for example, is a publication that communicates the needs, difficulties, and triumphs of the Filipino poor. Magazines sell for 100Php, and vendors keep 50% of the income; each vendor’s goal is to sell 10 magazines a day, and this enables their income to exceed the Philippine minimum wage by 40%. However, finding safe and legal places to sell the magazines is a struggle, and it is also more difficult to sell the magazine if people remain nonchalant towards the writers’ and vendors’ situation. Therefore, at times it is a tough task to actually capture people’s interest to buy it.
Another project is BerdeBags by our service partner Berdesaco, wherein ‘stylish and practical one-of-a-kind bags’ are made from rice sacks and tarpaulins. These are sold to a local and international market, and provide jobs for families in San Mateo, Rizal. A disadvantage of a project like this is that it is not a fast money-generator; therefore, families need to have patience and wait over a long period of time for people to actually buy their product in order for them to gain a higher profit.
Nevertheless, patience, resilience, and hard work with a smile are all traits of Filipino society, and the success of such projects in due time is a certainty!