From slum to coop community leader to find sustainable solutions for new livelihood opportunities

Girlyn A. Obenza is 52-years old and lives in ALPAS socialised housing site in Bulacan, Philippines. She was relocated to this site five years ago from the Philippines’ most densely populated urban poor area, Bagong Silang, a sprawling slum with over 500 hectares of tightly-packed informal settlements. Girlyn is currently the ALPAS Homeowners Association President and ALPAS Cooperative Chairperson. Being part of these organisations entitles her and her family to safe, decent housing in the resettlement site. Three family members live with her, with two contributing to the household income, one as a painter and one working in a warehouse. Together, they earn an average income of PHP15,000 (AU$395) per month.

In her coop leader role, Girlyn leads the mobilisation of community members to access support for their livelihoods and everyday needs. She is well-respected within the community due to her dedication to helping her community. As part of the community development process, Girlyn has worked closely with Dana Asia to assess the community’s needs and find sustainable solutions to initiate new livelihood opportunities. Through a series of joint workshops throughout 2021-22, the key needs for the ALPAS community were identified as being:

  1. Improved access to low-cost basic goods
  2. Affordable water supply
  3. New livelihood opportunities for residents, women in particular.

One initiative that Girlyn is passionate about is the establishment of the eco store now championing plastic reduction through zero-waste retailing of 90 different low-priced basic goods, including coffee, oil, condiments, sugar, and rice. The store has 160 regular customers and is taking anywhere from PHP1,500 – 4,200 (AU$39 – 110) per day.

“Dana Asia provided the grant to establish the eco store and conduct training to build the capacities of members. In the coming months, ALPAS Coop will be known through this eco store. The local government has endorsed this project to other civic organisations that can potentially support ALPAS in other community development initiatives. Working together, we trust that we can implement the projects to have a great impact in our community. Thank you.”

Girlyn A. Obenza

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