On May 23, 2017, Marawi City in Mindanao was rocked by violent extremist groups. Thousands fled, including 48-year-old widow and entrepreneur, Piya Azis.

Operation Blessing (OB) stepped in to aid the displaced, launching massive relief operations and providing food, medical missions, and essential items. In 2018, OB also began recovery and rehabilitation efforts, offering affected locals renewed hope.

Piya lost everything in the war—her ready-to-wear clothes business and sewing shop. Thanks to OB and Makati Hope Christian School, she received an electric sewing machine, a sewing starter kit, and fabric to restart her livelihood.

Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and strict lockdowns crippled their businesses for three years. Piya and her fellow survivors had to adapt. Some ventured into food vending, while others used their savings to survive.

OB came through again with the Microenterprise Project, providing edging machines to help the women rebuild. Piya now sews and sells children’s shorts at ₱20 ($0.35) each, along with malongs (wraparound cloths) and bedsheets priced between ₱250-₱500 ($4-$9).

With a background in business, Piya and her peers sustained and grew their ventures. Their revolving capital increased from ₱5,000 ($86) to an impressive ₱20,000 ($345) to ₱30,000 ($518). They rebuilt their lives, provided for their families, and ensured their children could continue schooling.

Piya also sells cloth for extra income, earning around ₱600 ($10) weekly. Despite recent dips in sales, her determination remains strong.

OB’s Microenterprise Project also offers the beneficiaries training in financial management and bookkeeping, helping them manage their businesses effectively. They are also ministered with God’s Word, providing spiritual support to the beneficiaries and their families.

From the ruins of war to the challenges of a pandemic, these women rise, showing that with support and determination, anything is possible!