“Beb, diri gid ta mag-pokus sa lake kay wala gid ta masking isa ka ektarya nga lupa.” (Beb, we don’t have any lands of our own so let’s focus on the lake.”) Jeneth Sukan remembers telling Junnie, her husband. For her, the lake has always been a main source of life for her and her family. As a mother and a beader, her dream has always been to take care of her family, send her kids to school, and help Junnie set-up a thriving fishing business.
Before Sesotunawa, life was very different for the Sukans. In 2010, Junnie recalls how he started with only one fish net and pukot (net left overnight in the lake to catch fish outside the fish net). The catch was often not enough to feed their growing family, so he had to sell pandesal (bread) to earn extra. He was only paid 20 pesos per 100 bread sold. Many times, he would not be able to sell his quota, so he would go home empty-handed. He thought about the time and effort he put in and realized selling bread was not going to be enough for his family. As a son of the lake, he diverted all his attention back to fishing. Life was in the lake.
Junnie has been fishing since he was 11 years old. His father taught him how to fish and even in the past, his forefathers were fishers of the lake. It was what he knew best and Jeneth recognized this so naturally, his dream became her dream, too.
Junnie took a risk when he borrowed money to buy more fish nets. He took an even greater risk when he invested the money he saved for Jeneth’s hospital bill, for when she would give birth to their first born. At first, life didn’t change dramatically for their family. They had to go through several setbacks before finally enjoying the earnings from their fishing business. He even had to use the profits from their first harvest to help his brother after he had an accident. Still, the Sukans persisted and trusted the lake would provide.
More hyu sfili (positive changes) happened to their life after Jeneth joined Sesotunawa. She started to help Junnie set-up their business by using her earnings to buy young fish and provide for their family. Jeneth recalls, “Wala pa ang Sesotunawa, siling ako ano ang maibulig ko kay beb maabot ang panahon.” (Before Sesotunawa, I would often ask myself, ‘How can I help Junnie when the time comes?’)
One of the things the Sukans are grateful for is Jeneth’s journey in Sesotunawa. Her steady income from beading is not only used to improve their home life but also to build their business. From just 1 net ten years ago, their fishing area has now grown to 8 nets. Jeneth shares, “Kaya na namon mag-arkila, may income na kami biskan galagmay, hindi lang kami mangayo sa uban.” (Now, we can rent an area in the lake to spread our nets. Even us our income is not that huge, we’re grateful we don’t have to borrow money from anyone again.”