accessibility & help

Savings and smiles - Erlinda is back in business

A woman sat outside a shop© InfoErlinda Ingis doesn’t let blindness stop her from running her shop.

When customers pay she runs her 63-year-old hands over the cash she is given, checking the size of the banknotes and the bumps and grooves in the five Peso coins.

Erlinda will sell you everything from a bar of soap to rice or a can of Sprite. She lives nearby, and many of her customers are her neighbours. “People know I’m always in here,” she says.

Roadside sari sari stores like hers are a feature of life in Ilo Ilo, a part of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Erlinda’s home and her original sari sari store were badly damaged by high winds and falling trees. With no savings, things looked grim. Her store was her only way of putting food on her table.

She says “I feel bad when I remember how no-one could help me rebuild.”

But then the Red Cross arrived. They have helped traders like Erlinda get back on their feet – with support for the most vulnerable people in each community.

A cash grant helped Erlinda rebuild the store a few metres away from where it used to be. “Having a store is very important to me. I was happy when it store reopened,” she says.

Building back better

With money coming in, Erlinda has even been able to make a few improvements that will let her make more money in the long term.

There’s new meshing to make the store more secure – and a refrigerator to replace the old ice box.

Erlinda has also joined a Red Cross savings group, an alternative to expensive street lenders. Members – many of whom have never had a formal bank account – get support to put a little money away each month.

With savings, Erlinda and others will be better placed to withstand future disasters.

Until then, she will keep serving up ice-cool cans of Sprite to her loyal customers.

  • Thanks to our supporters, we are helping people thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan earn a living, get a safe place to live, stay healthy and prepare for future disasters. Local volunteers are at the heart of this work. See more stories from the Philippines.
  • You can help people caught up in emergencies around the world, by donating to the British Red Cross Disaster Fund.

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