Meet Ilsa Dolores Gomez, whose life changed when she joined a community savings group supported by Catholic Relief Services in the Dominican Republic.
Ilsa Dolores Gomez
Visit the Dominican Republic and see how the most vulnerable members of society are building economic security through community savings groups.
Photo by Robyn Fieser/CRSVIEW THE VIDEO
EXPERIENCE THESE STORIES
Recipe From the Dominican Republic: Black Bean Soup
Makes 4-5 servings
Serve this hearty warm soup over rice for a nutritious, meatless meal.
My name is Ilsa Dolores Gomez and I live in Las Lomas, a small town in the Dominican Republic. CRS came to help the women in our town form a community savings group. We got a lock box to keep our money safe, learned to keep good records of deposits and withdrawals, and chose a president, secretary and other officers to lead the group. I don’t have a lot of money, and I knew that being part of the community savings group would help me to start saving and have money available for emergencies. What I didn’t expect was that my role as an officer in the group would change my life.
I never thought of myself as a leader before, but my responsibilities within the savings group showed me that I have something to offer. A few months after we started our group, I decided to go back to school to finish my high school degree. I have the best grades in my class! I also bought a hair dryer and some brushes, and on a few nights each week, I turn my front patio into a beauty salon. The extra money I earn helps to pay the household bills, but it’s much more than that. I know that I can depend on myself, and I have the strength to make a life that is better for myself and my family.
Who is God calling you to be? How has God been generous with you, and how have you stewarded God’s gifts? Read more.
Facts to Consider
In the Dominican Republic, CRS-supported savings groups help community members improve their livelihoods and support their families. The savings groups are organized and managed by the members, which helps to promote unity, empowerment and long-term sustainable development within the community.
- In the Dominican Republic, 42 percent of the population currently lives below the poverty line.
- Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) is a methodology developed by CRS to target the poorest populations who lack access to formal financial services and who are often overlooked by major microfinance institutions. 15-30 group members meet 2-4 times each month to save money in a collective fund.
- The fund gradually grows larger, allowing the group to provide small-scale loans.
- Members can use loans to develop business activities or for consumptive purposes.
- Members also have access to a “social fund” that provides interest-free loans for social services and emergencies, such as funerals, school fees and medical treatments.