January 30, 2017

Organic Growth

In the Philippines, learning a trade helped one young woman find a job exactly where she wanted—at home.

Aizel Quisano tends to her orchids at an organic farm in Lamitan City.

Only two years ago, Aizel Quisano’s life looked a lot different than it does now.

Back then, she was one of thousands of young people in the Mindanao region of the Philippines who were both out of school and unemployed. A future in her hometown of Lamitan City looked bleak. She was desperate for work and even considered leaving her family to seek employment in Cavite, a city 850 miles to the north, near Manila.

But now, those days are behind her. New life skills and a new job at an organic farm in Lamitan City are enriching both her life and her community.

“My job has allowed me to help other out-of-school youth by teaching them how to do organic farming,” she says. “And my parents are happy because, aside from being able to earn income, I am also helping my community.”

Participating in EDC’s USAID-funded Mindanao Youth Development (MYDev) program helped inspire this new direction in Quisano’s life.

First, Quisano learned about effective communication, workplace safety, and financial literacy—all skills needed to begin building her career—thanks to a MYDev life skills training. Then she completed a MYDev-sponsored horticulture training in Lamitan City, which gave her in-demand agricultural skills.

Quisano became so interested in a career in agriculture that she decided to pursue an intense six-month training at an organic farming institute. MYDev’s Out-Of-School Youth Development Alliance offered her a scholarship to cover the costs of the training. A job offer followed soon after graduation—just one day before Quisano was to leave for Cavite.

“Many youth in Mindanao, particularly those in rural areas, have little opportunity for employment and must move to larger cities,” says EDC’s Nancy Wallace, chief of party for MYDev. “It is encouraging when young people are able to gain new skills that benefit themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Since 2013, MYDev has helped over 13,000 Mindanao youth learn vital workforce and life skills. The project has also created Out-of-School Youth Development Alliances with local employers and government authorities, which help MYDev youth find meaningful work.

Like Quisano, many young people who have been through MYDev programs are now finding more economic and civic opportunities in their communities. This benefits everyone, says Wallace.

“MYDev is giving out-of-school youth real opportunities to make a positive difference in their communities,” she says. “It’s making a huge difference.”