|Elisa Gomez, 2013 Lydia award 2nd placer, talks about her organic bath soap made with malunggay leaf extracts.|
Elisa Gomez, CCT micro finance community partner from Apopong, General Santos City, is the second placer in the 2013 Lydia Awards program sponsored by PEER Servants.
Nanay Eliza Gomez, is a pioneer member of the CCT Savings and Credit Cooperative in General Santos and has received micro finance loans from CCT since 1998. She produces bedroom slippers, organic soap, native bags, and fashion accessories. These businesses provide part-time jobs for working students and also fund missionary work among the B’laan tribe in Saranggani.
The Lydia award is named after Lydia, the businesswoman mentioned in Acts 16 who was devoted to the Lord and who played an prominent role in the early Christian church and ministry.
After being healed of cancer when she was 28, Elisa, now 62, committed her life to serving the Lord among the less fortunate. She has a heart for children growing up without proper support, guidance, and care from their own families, especially those she describes as, “Yung mga pagala-gala” (“Those who wander aimlessly”). Among those she has helped to complete their education is an engineer, a teacher, and several others who finished two-year technical courses. Everyone she takes in or helps send to school has to help with the slipper-making business.
For about 10 years now, Elisa and her husband, a lay pastor, have spent a month each year among members of the B’laan tribe who live in the hinterlands of Saranggani province (the province borders General Santos City). They bring clothes, do evangelistic work and lead Bible studies, hold literacy and livelihood classes, teach proper hygiene, and, using Elisa’s own asunting and moringa soaps wash and treat those with skin problems. The couple have another trip planned for November of this year.
Elisa has been a positive role model for joyful generosity to those she has helped send to school and to church mates who accompany her and her husband when they minister among the B’laans. Another impact of Elisa’s businesses is the positive work attitudes instilled in all of those she has helped. The teacher she helped send to school says, “If you work hard enough, you will have food to eat.”
The Lydia Awards is sponsored by Peer Servants, a Christian micro finance organization based in Massachusetts, USA, to recognize micro enterprises that are growing in their capital base, employing people, strengthening the church, and having a positive impact on their communities. Through the Lydia award, Peer Servants hopes to encourage this same behavior among the entrepreneurs within its network of micro finance organizations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
As second placer, Elisa receives a $1,000 grant for her businesses.
The 2013 Lydia award overall winner is Richard Tunya, a cassava processor from Uganda.
|Extracts from asunting (acapulco) leaves, explains Elisa Gomez,|
go into a soap that heals scabies.
|Nanay Elisa makes bedroom slippers using used blankets |
bought from ukay-ukay stores.
|Nanay Gomez shows Gerlie Diaz, Apopong branch team servant, some of the wallets she makes.|
|Hidden Manna Avila, daughter of a couple employed by Elisa Gomez's|
slipper business, helps her parents after school by stitching slipper straps together.
This step makes the slippers wearable for as long as five years.