When Enzar Gull lost both legs, his left arm and two fingers in a landmine, he had to find a new way to support his wife and two children. So he turned to the one skill he knew well: gardening.
When Enzar heard about a local credit union supported by WOCCU, he joined and applied for a loan at a much more affordable rate. No longer at the mercy of usurious lenders, he received the credit he needed to buy fertilizer. His income instantly doubled, and he has since applied for a second, larger loan to expand his business. "Business is good and my family's future is brighter than ever," Enzar said.
Delmar Luz Cordoba and her husband once farmed their family land in Chocó, the Colombian state bordering Panama. When right-wing paramilitary troops threatened to kill Cordoba's husband nine years ago, the couple gathered their six children and fled south to Pereira, a small city on the edge of the country's vast coffee fields. With no land to farm and no experience in urban living, the family turned to local social service agencies for help.
Through a Catholic-run charity, Cordoba learned about COOPLAROSA, a credit union that had helped other desplazados, or "displaced ones." Cordoba joined the credit union and has since received several small loans, enabling her to open a tiny shop that sells food products, toiletries and cosmetics. "COOPLAROSA has never turned me down," Cordoba said. "Without their help, we never would have survived."
Pierre Durandisse is a church pastor and farmer who cultivates several small plots of corn, peas and cassava, a tropical root vegetable. When the earthquake struck in January, his church collapsed and he watched from his yard as his house suffered the same fate. Pierre now sleeps under the trees and holds services in a makeshift shelter. Thankfully, he had already harvested his crop by the time the earthquake struck, and though he had lost his home and his church, he still had his small business. With his local credit union one of the few enterprises still operating in post-earthquake Haiti, Pierre was able to deposit money from the crop he had harvested just before the disaster.
Benadette, a widow and mother of five, has been a volunteer early childhood teacher at Busia Compassionate Centre since 2003. She teaches 27 six-year-olds in a small, concrete floor classroom with little furniture and fewer books. Though she struggles personally to make ends meet as a volunteer, Benadette said the children are quite bright, and she loves teaching them. The orphans have received school scholarships through the local credit union, and they started a garden project with WOCCU's guidance to ensure they have regular, nutritious food while learning farming skills and responsibility.
Reina Hernandez, 24, and Rofina Cruz Martinez, 29, are a part of an isolated indigenous community in Mexico. The remoteness of their village, in addition to speaking Spanish as a second language, made working outside the home nearly impossible until five years ago when a newly constructed road provided their community access to a nearby credit union. Through the credit union, the community was able to secure a loan to build a food distribution center to serve the surrounding villages.
Now, Reina and Rofina work at the center, helping distribute beans, rice and sugar. According to Reina, "Before [the distribution center was built] we had nowhere to work. Now we can bring in a consistent cash flow." With the help of savings and loan services from the credit union, Reina and Rofina have created stability for themselves and their family's future. Their credit union, Caja Zongolica, is a member of WOCCU's program in Mexico.
When U.A. Jothaline, 62, visits the Women's Coop, she often brings along the fruits of her labors for friends at the branch office, located in a small, darkened room adjacent to the volunteer treasurer's house.
Jothaline and her family raise cattle and farm a four-acre rice paddy and one acre of vegetables. It's an enterprise the three have maintained for more than 30 years. Compared to many of her neighbors, Jothaline is a prosperous entrepreneur, success she attributes in part to her seven years of membership at the Women's Coop.
Loans have been essential in helping Jothaline survive rough periods, including the inevitable blight that attacks the area's rice crops. Jothaline's role as part of a women's borrowing group has enabled her to prosper and even establish a small savings account.
CREDIT UNIONS AFFECTED: FACTS & FIGURES
Forty cooperatives in the the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) network have been affected by the typhoon including 500 staff members; and this number is expected to rise since not all credit unions within the network have submitted their reports. Typhoon Haiyan’s greatest impact on credit unions is in Leyte, Eastern Samar, Capiz, Tacloban and Cebu municipalities and has the potential of distressing 1.5 million cooperative members.
Immediately after the storm, many credit unions visited or sent text messages to ensure staff and members were alright. The capacity to restore financial services is depending on the level of damage to each credit union facility. Generally, many cooperatives opened within one week after the typhoon and are currently running on generators. However, three credit unions in Leyte have not re-opened as well as the largest credit union in Tacloban City that has been severely damaged from wind and flooding.
Types of financial services and operations vary among cooperatives; however, most are trying to provide members with access to their savings. In many cooperatives members are requesting access to calamity loans so they may begin to rebuild their lives; while others who have such insurances are beginning to process their claims. In Cebu, credit unions are offering members access to generators so they can charge their cellphones.
As new information becomes available we will update this website. Please continue to check back or contact us if you have any questions.
WORLD COUNCIL RESPONSE
World Council is also coordinating response efforts among the Asian, Australian, American, Canadian and Irish credit union systems to maximize impact and ensure credit unions have the resources they need to provide immediate and long-term services for their members.
The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, World Council's official gift-receiving and grantmaking entity, is committing financial resources to help credit unions and their members rebuild. Donations are currently being collected and thanks to CUNA Mutual Group's existing disaster fund with the Foundation, a grant of $15,000 has already been given to NATCCO for rebuilding efforts.
HOW DONATIONS WILL BE USED
WORLD COUNCIL PHILIPPINE EXPERTISE
In 2010, World Council received presidential commendation in recognition of its credit union development work in the Philippines. In 2002, World Council received the prestigious Herb Wagner Award from the National Credit Union Foundation for its Philippines Credit Union Empowerment and Strengthening program that transformed eleven credit unions from small and insolvent institutions to self-sustainable credit unions.
DONATE: To get involved with World Council's disaster response please donate here.
Philippines Typhoon; Credit Unions, Members Affected
MADISON, Wis. — In the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, World Council of Credit Unions is in contact with local authorities in the Philippines and our Australian member, Customer Owned Banking Association, to assess how to best help the 4.5 million people affected.
According to reports, typhoon Haiyan has killed an estimated 10,000 people. The situation has the potential to worsen should displaced credit union members and others not receive necessary assistance. World Council has worked with Philippines credit unions since 1996 and the most recent project focused on model credit union building and institutional branding. According to World Council's 2012 Statistical Report, there are 1,320 credit unions in the Philippines serving 4.3 million members last year.
World Council has led relief and rebuilding efforts during past international disasters, including the January 2010 Haitian earthquake, February 2006 Philippine Islands landslide and December 2004 Asian tsunami. Following the Haitian earthquake, World Council led a $1.2 million dollar project to provide immediate relief, provide shelter and revitalize the country's credit union system. Following the 2006 Philippines landslide in Leyte, World Council supported the local league's administration of "livelihood loans," small microloans that helped credit union members and employees rebuild their homes and businesses.
World Council is now prepared to provide disaster relief to credit union staff and support credit union rebuilding efforts following this latest disaster. Much-needed cash contributions from credit unions and individuals will provide assistance to those whose lives have been devastated by this terrible disaster.
To support the international credit union disaster relief fund and rebuilding of Philippine credit unions, payments via check, credit card or wire may be sent to:
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA.
Individuals may make donations with a credit card online at www.woccu.org/give; credit unions may wire funds. For additional information, contact: Calyn Ostrowski, Director, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, +1-608-395-2056 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate that your donation is designated for Philippine Disaster Relief Fund.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Rooftop of one of the major credit unions in Leyte
Inside a credit union in Eastern Samar that has been damaged by Typhoon Haiyan
Credit union members line up outside the office in Leyte
Credit union member wait for relief
Photo courtesy of NATCCO