From gloom to loom


October 4, 2010

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    Fitria Rinawati/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Plastic waste recycler Tuti Winarti showing recycled products to Western Union South and Southeast Asia managing director Anil Kapur (far right) and Mercy Corps Indonesia country director Sean Granville-Ross. Photo: Fitria Rinawati/Mercy Corps

“From selling our recycled products, one of my neighbors could send their children to university. And for my family, it has helped me afford a nice house," said Tuti Winarti, who makes a living recycling waste into goods like handbags and even clothing one of Jakarta's poorest neighborhoods. "Before, we could only afford to pay the rent on a three-by-three-meter house, but now we live in a three-by-six-meter house. My dream is to some day own my own house."

Tuti’s testimony at the recent "Break the Chain of Poverty" event drew long applause and impressed expressions from an audience made up of representatives from the Western Union Foundation, journalists and Mercy Corps Indonesia staff.

“Western Union Foundation's support, through Mercy Corps facilitation, has helped us in our financial literacy, which includes financial planning and management. We also could save a bit of our money, which we couldn’t do before," Tuti continued. "It’s so relieving when we could celebrate Eid Fitr with our own savings, without having to borrow money from others."

"This financial literacy training and knowledge has bring us from gloom to loom,” she added.

Her testimonial has kept humming in my head as well. Yes! It’s true! We are Indonesians, mostly Muslims, who always celebrate Eid Fitr every year. Because it's one of our most important holidays, it's the peak of the consumptive season. Every Muslim does shopping. Buys everything. And all prices escalate, but nobody pays it much attention. Foremost in peoples' minds is new stuff and food for celebrating Eid. As a result, the poor often fall into crises of even more financial debt.

And so, in fact, the financial literacy interventions help the poor to manage their household finances. It is so relieving. With this, I could see how Mercy Corps Indonesia's innovation approaches break through the poverty chain. It brings them from gloom to loom.

‘Break the Chain of Poverty’ is an event that marked the donation of US$100,000 from the Western Union Foundation to Mercy Corps Indonesia to help fund training for small and micro businesses in poor areas. The "Our World Our Family" program has opened the opportunity for financial literacy for many.

With this new commitment — and with hard work from women like Tuti — there will be even more breaks in the poverty chain. There will be more light to the gloom.