Lao-Ang is a rural, tropical town in the remote region of Samar in the Philippines. Most of the children who have Chalice sponsors begin their education at the Liceo de Bethlehem School, often referred to as "Liceo". There are currently about 400 students enrolled in the elementary school.
Chalice launched a nutrition program at the school in November 2016, providing breakfast and lunch for three days per week. At that time, only 62% of the children were a healthy "normal" weight.
The new feeding program meant that Maricel, the Site Director for Samar, needed to source fresh proteins in bulk quantities, such as eggs, chicken, beef, and pork. It seemed a natural fit to involve the parents of Chalice sponsored children, who were already engaged in circle groups and eager to find income-generating ventures.
Elva Corocoto is a mother of three and the president of her circle group, known as Zone 5. Her group was working well together and Maricel could see that they could take on a farming project. She told Elva to hold a meeting to choose their project, and the group voted to raise hogs for pork. So, in July of 2018, Elva and her team received eight fatting hogs and a sow, and all the necessary supplementary supplies, to begin their hog-raising enterprise. All the materials were provided through the Chalice Gift Catalogue.
Elva has a special motivation to provide pork for the school children. Her eldest son, now 12, is asthmatic. Before he attended Liceo, Elva often struggled to provide him the healthy diet he needed, and as a result, he suffered asthma attacks every week or so. But when he joined Liceo and was able to have the school meals, he was able to gain weight and regain his health. "It's a very big help to us," she says through tears.
"We are happy that our business is one of the sources, so that the children in Liceo (are) able to eat pork with a good quality," she says.
The group fills purchase orders of approximately 60 kg of pork at a time for the Liceo feeding program. They can also sell their piglets for a healthy profit. The group places 5% of all profits into a group savings account, and the remainder of the profits are distributed to group members based on their level of involvement in the business.
As of March 2019, the number of children at Liceo with a normal weight has risen to 94%; since the launch of the nutrition program, staff have seen Liceo surpass other elementary schools in enrollment numbers.