Nanette - Co-op Manager since 2005, Philippines

A young mother walked into the co-op one fall afternoon. She was pregnant with her 7th child. She had heard of the Pearl co-op through various friends and sources in the squatter area.

"Please", she spoke with pleading eyes, "will you please take my baby and feed her? I will adopt to you, just feed her."

We quickly assured her that rather than adopting her child, we could teach her to make jewelry so she could earn her own money. She seemed intrigued by this idea, and thus Nanette became one of our new Pearlologists.

She worked through the pregnancy and delivered a beautiful baby girl. Her husband, Juan, was a trash collector. He pedaled around on a bicycle with a basket attached and collected usable pieces of trash. Some days his earnings amounted to the equivalent of a dollar, others it was a mere few cents. Every day was a struggle for food for seven hungry mouths.

The older children frequently stayed home from school in order to beg for food, fetch wood to make a fire to boil water for drinking, or to walk the two miles to the water supply to get daily drinking water. Every day was a battle for survival.

A few months after beginning to work at the Pearl Co-op, we had a trip to the Philippines and went to Nanette’s house to visit her and her family. We wove our way around the dirt paths circulating ever inward through a maze of huts and lean-tos. We came to a squatter house that had a rickety homemade wooden ladder going up to its rooftop. We quickly learned that this was their dwelling. Up the wooden boards, we climbed. We entered a 10x10 wooden slated floor area filled with 6 rambunctious children and a hip-straddled infant that was wailing.

The translator quickly explained that there was not enough nutrition for mom to effectively nurse, not enough money for formula or milk and that one of the older children had run down to the river to fetch water and wood. They would then make a fire, boil the water, and mix it with rice powder to feed the baby. A process that would take close to an hour. My heart melted. We stayed for 30 minutes, playing games with the children, watching as they did somersaults, handstands and entertained us with their child-like good natures. Ever smiling and laughing as we clapped and cheered them on. Meanwhile, the infant shrieked on and on while mom patiently rocked her against her hip. We departed before the oldest had yet returned with the desperately needed water. We quickly went to a market and purchased formulas, powdered milk and a water purification system for their tiny family.

The entire time we were in Nanette’s home, she had a smile on her face as she brokenly repeated: "My thanks to you I work, my thanks to you we eat, my thanks to you, I keep my baby".  

Though still in humble circumstances, she was able to begin her path of self-reliance because of the work offered through the pearl co-op.

15 years later, Nanette is still one of our pearlologist today. She loves creating and designing. She is able to provide nutritious meals for her family and she has built a new home for her large family. Grateful for the support from her co-op Nanette has much hope for the future of her and her family.

Pictured below is Nanetta and her family in front of their new home.

Shop for items made by Nanette and our other pearlologists from the Philippines.