Old clothes, new life

Dindo Alibanto sells second-hand clothes (ukay-ukay), but turns some of the worn out ones into "foot covers." Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Dindo Alibanto sells second-hand clothes (ukay-ukay), but turns some of the worn out ones into “foot covers.” Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Scissors in hand, 42-year-old Dindo Alibanto rummages through the stack of old clothes in front of him. Most of the clothes are already tattered, others good as new.

“Out of these second-hand clothes (ukay-ukay) I buy in the city, I cut the long pants to make shorts and use the extra fabric to make ‘foot covers’,” he explains, smiling. “School children use foot covers when they are inside the classroom, so as not to stain the floors with mud.”

Dindo has been earning five to seven thousand pesos every month since he started selling foot covers and ukay-ukay. That amount is more than double of what he used to get – back when he was dependent only on his irregular job at a shoe factory 29 km from his house in Baras, Rizal…

Indeed those were hard times for Dindo and his wife, Mary Joy.

Dindo with his wife, Mary Joy, and daughter, Andrea Nicole. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Dindo with his wife, Mary Joy, and daughter, Andrea Nikole. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Though they were able to live in a small concrete house, the structure was still unfinished. It did not have a proper main door. The floor was mere dirt. And the windows only had wooden boards as covers.

Poverty also hindered them from sending two of their daughters — Andrea Nikole (age 15) and Angelika (age 16) – to have their club foot treated.

More challenging still, Angelika was about to graduate from high school. Dindo was afraid he couldn’t send her to college. Or if he could, that might even suspend Andrea Nikole’s education.

“But I want my children to finish their education,” he says.

So when he was reached by Handicap International’s REBUILD Project, which supports people with disabilities to earn livelihoods and communities to adopt an inclusive local development perspective, Dindo signed up right away.

As father to his daughters who have disabilities, he was able to get loaning opportunities from a local microfinance institution through the assistance of the REBUILD Project. Ever the entrepreneurial man, he thought of buying and reselling ukay-ukay and repurposing some of them into various other products – such as the foot covers from worn out clothes.

Since Dindo received his P20,000 loan in October 2013, he has been buying ukay-ukay from a nearby city. He would sell them at a stand near his house. “And our house would become the makeshift ‘fitting room’,” he chuckles.
Dindo still goes to the shoe factory every now and then. But he remarks that his small business – thanks to Handicap International – is truly making a big impact on his daily life.

“We finally got ourselves a real door,” he says, gesturing towards the main entryway to the house. “And some windows.” The jalousie windows gleamed in the noonday glare.

Today Angelika is about to start pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education at a state college. She will also receive corrective shoes soon. The REBUILD Project ensures that beneficiaries not only receive livelihood services, but those in other aspects as well, such as rehabilitation and healthcare.

Andrea Nikole, meanwhile, will begin 9th grade at the local high school.

“I’m very grateful to Handicap International for the good it has done to my family, especially my daughters who have disabilities.”

The REBUILD Project is implemented with financial support from