The weavers of Salingan
At the end of a windy track in amongst rice fields as far as the eye can see and copses of palm and mango trees, we arrived into the little community of Salngan. There are 585 people in 92 bamboo and thatch homes scattered in glimpses randomly among the trees along with tethered cows, goats and of course, chickens.
There is great fanfare. The people come out and meet us in a courtyard under a giant mango tree. We are served buku juice and fruit. Four colourfully dressed women come out to perform a dance for us. They are laughing, goofing off, and teasing each other.
It is a thriving happy healthy community. But it wasn’t always like this.
One by one the women stand and give their testimonies. There is lots of laughter, a few tears. They tell how six years ago the village was aimless and poor. No sanitation, little education, no economy, malnutrition. The villagers sat around under the same tree, bored and purposeless, often gambling away what meagre cash they had.
Our hosts today are Taytay Sa Kauswagan (TSKI) a local Christian microfinance organisation dedicated to spiritual transformation and human development. They began work with the folk of Salngan in business mentoring, leadership development, skills training and small loans to absolutely transform this community. A loan of $120 built them a community hall and a weaver’s loom. Today they have 18 looms and a booming industry as weavers of beautiful cloth. Kids are fed and educated, the people are working. They have a child care centre and community meetings. They even built a road through their village. It is a shining example of transformation.
I bought a 4 metre length of beautiful and intricately woven fabric , hand woven on the loom next to me. It took a day to make. I asked how much: $8.00.
TSKI have 200 000 clients.