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In this video interview, Lalaine Naquita, the Savings and Credit Association program specialist for HOPE’s partner CCT, talks about how the very poor in the Philippines are finding a way to save.

Lalaine’s team of 35 savings facilitators targets nontraditional clientele, including street dwellers, indigenous populations, fishermen, and even children. Some wouldn’t think these individuals could save—sometimes they don’t think they can—but the importance of saving is nowhere more evident than among these populations, where a savings account can provide a vital safety net. Already the program has grown to reach over 2,600 savers throughout the country. Lalaine’s goals for the program are ambitious, to say the least: “My goal is that all of the SCA partners would know God as their Savior and learn why savings is so important,” she says.

I think I was 11 the first time my family went on a mission trip. We went deep into the hills of Appalachia: to parts of this country that it’s hard to believe exist. I tagged along with a group that included professional contractors and talented electricians and plumbers, helping out where I could to work alongside a family in making significant repairs to their home. They lived in a pop-up camper with several additions made with great necessity but limited skill. Sewage flowed directly underneath their home, and the family’s living conditions were shocking to a kid who thought most people lived a lot like she did.

One of my clearest memories from this trip is of our group facilitator telling us matter-of -factly before we arrived that this family had a swimming pool. To brace us for the dissonance, he explained that the family lived on extremely limited income and hadn’t been able to give their children much, but this pool was something they had saved to afford. We might have seen it as an odd or even irresponsible use of limited funds, but psychologically, this pool—and being able to afford it—meant a lot to the family. The facilitator didn’t phrase it this way, but I think his underlying message was, “Try not to judge what you can’t understand.” Continue Reading…