Dinia’s Story: Love your neighbour

With the support of Caritas Australia, women like Dinia are overcoming the challenges of poverty in the Philippines.


Pregnant with her fifth child when her husband died unexpectedly, Dinia lost not just her partner, but the financial security his job at the mines brought. She was in a very vulnerable position.

In 2011, Caritas Australia’s partner, the Socio Pastoral Action Centre Foundation Inc (SPACFI) began working with Dinia and since then she has been able to develop a sustainable income through a Caritas supported livelihoods program that helps both her and her neighbours.

“I have a feeling of contentment, being able to help others,” Dinia says.

In her village in the Philippines, Dinia is a strong force. Active in her local People’s Organisation, she also shares her farming and natural healing skills.

Widespread poverty in the Philippines means that more than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line of $1.90 a day, with around 10 million of the poorest being women.

In 2011, SPACFI and the local government identified Dinia’s family as one of the most vulnerable in her community and invited her to participate in the Integrated Community Development Program (ICDP) which Caritas Australia supports.

“The program aims to improve the capacity of the poorest communities, [to help] them to be self-reliant, and have more independence − to have a life of dignity and sustain their families,” says Cherie, a SPACFI community development worker.

“Dinia showed determination and willingness to be part of the program, which offered her livelihood training in organic gardening, making natural medicines, vermiculure, and for SRI — System of Rice Intensification, or organic rice farming.”

Dinia also learned how to raise pigs for income and share their offspring with neighbours through SPACFI’s Hog Dispersal Program.

“The distribution of pigs is a system of sharing. The program provides you with a pig as long as you are able to raise piglets and pass two of them to others,” Dinia says.

For Dinia, a strong connection to her wider community is key to her and her neighbours’ quality of life, exemplified by SPACFI’s ‘Cornerstone principle’ of holistic community development.

“The Cornerstone [principle] is first of all about sharing, being generous with our neighbours. Even in difficult times when there isn’t enough rice, we always share it with the neighbours so everyone has rice to eat,” Dinia says.

Earlier, Dinia couldn’t afford education for her children. Now, she says, “The extra income helps a lot with the family expenses – for school, the house, and other necessities.”

Dinia’s journey of healing has ended with an integral role in her community, a sustainable livelihood, and a brighter future for her children.

“My life is much better now. It is much easier,” she says.

You can also watch a video below.

Please donate to Project Compassion 2017 and help our most vulnerable neighbours in the Philippines to build a stronger future for their families and their communities. Visit Caritas Australia. 

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Nicole Clements Image
Nicole Clements

Nicole Clements is Media Advisor, Caritas Australia

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