Ellen is a 41-year-old mother of eight and a loyal member of the San Vicente community in the Philippines. So loyal, in fact, that she takes it upon herself to get others involved and engaged in Outreach meetings and activities to better the area.

For years, Ellen was concerned about the sanitation of San Vicente. There were only five private toilets in the entire village. She asked a neighbor permission to use one of these toilets, but many residents had to use a vacant lot.

Not surprisingly, illness was widespread throughout the community—and the smell was not pleasant. Because of their weaker immune systems, children and the elderly were the ones who suffered most. The people of San Vicente were sick, and they were embarrassed.

When they prioritized a latrine project, Ellen said, at first, it was difficult to get people involved. “Many have the attitude that to see is to believe,” she said, meaning that they aren’t optimistic when radical change is proposed.

The plan was to build concrete houses for each toilet. When they worked together, families built 27 total toilets for the community. And they’re not done yet. They plan to build 70 by the time they’re finished.

“I know my family and my community will have a better future because of what we’re doing,” said Ellen. “I am very grateful, and proud of our group.”