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Savings Groups: Lending a Hand to Change


Written by Plant With Purpose on August 7, 2014 in General

By Brittany Raab

Changes. Improvements. Advancements. We all have facets of our life that we wish would transform into something better. Yet, in order for a true change to occur, we sometimes need help from others. For over thirty years, Plant With Purpose has used the talent and knowledge of national staff to be the “help” that people are looking for. While the “wish list” of life changes may look different for a Dominican Republic farmer, his outcome yields the same results we all desire – the ability to live a better life.

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Alejandro Castillo Jimenez with his son and hand-crafted pottery.

Alejandro Castillo Jimenez is a forty-year-old father and husband, with great responsibilities in Loma Verde. He is involved in neighborhood groups, local government, teacher association, and his neighborhood church. Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility! As if this wasn’t enough, Alejandro also has a leadership role as the counter in his communities’ Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). He cherishes this responsibility so much that he refers to it as his “vocation.” Simply put, the community-based saving group has changed his life.
 

“The benefits are investing in my family, and improving my quality of life in regard to food, shelter, and education for my children.”

 
Alejandro explains the impact the savings group has had on his life. He states, “Economically, the implementation of the savings groups has been a blessing because we have learned to save and we get our loans for a more affordable rate in comparison to the lenders.” To further understand the benefits, Alejandro adds, “The beneficiaries of the payment of interest are us – the community. With loans taken in the group, I’m building my home, I have also invested in my business of pottery and selling fish.”

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Money being counted at a VSLA meeting in Loma Verde. Alejandro not pictured.

Alejandro says his life has improved by 70 percent because Plant With Purpose has taught him how to better manage his income. “I no longer spend it on unnecessary things but I invest in practical savings,” Alejandro explains. Alejandro feels that ultimately, “The benefits are investing in my family, and improving my quality of life in regard to food, shelter, and education for my children.”

Alejandro adds, “Personally I have been able to improve the roof of my house and get out of debt. … I thank God for everything that has given me.

And we join with him in praising God for the money management and income generating skills that Alejandro has learned from Plant With Purpose. Tomorrow we will be sharing how improved agriculture and spiritual renewal is further transforming Alejandro and his family’s life.


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