Life after the storm
In 2013,Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines and devastated large parts of the island state. On Bantayan and Leyte islands the charity group “Children in Need” is helping with the reconstruction work.
On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines and devastated large parts of the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bantayan and Cebu. Violent storms are nothing unusual for the inhabitants; they have ten typhoons on average a year. Never before has a storm wreaked such damage, however. Meteorologists described Haiyan as the most violent tropical storm ever recorded. Around 14 million people were affected, more than 6,000 people died, and some 1.9 million, including 800,000 children, were made homeless. People lost not only the roof over their heads; the destruction of fields, boats and coconut groves meant that families also lost their livelihoods.
The charity group „Children in Need“ decided immediately to help with reconstruction. It was clear to everyone that children were the greatest victims. Countless boys and girls were separated from their parents or lost one or both of them. Even those whose families survived were often left to their own devices while their parents looked for food. These children were in urgent need of help. Father Max Abalos was quickly recruited as a local project partner, and the Divine Word missionary is now coordinating and monitoring the charity group‘s „Typhoon“ emergency aid.
Rapid assistance for 145 families
The project brought Father Max and his team to the disaster area on Bantayan. Most of the people there live exclusively from fishing. On a good day they can earn 200 pesos, equivalent to just over 3 euros, to feed a family of six on average. These people have lost everything. Their bamboo huts were swept away by the typhoon. In one barangay (village) the charity group was able to help 145 families with food, tools and funds to buy building material. The new huts were more sturdy to enable them to withstand future storms.
The fishermen urgently require additional aid, however, since their boats were destroyed or washed away. A new fishing boat costs 45,000 pesos (735 euros), a sum far beyond the resources of the families. Apart from the assistance to individual families, help was also provided in rebuilding the barangay community center. The typhoon had torn the roof off, and falling coconut palms had damaged the building. After the roof had been repaired, it provided shelter for children and their mothers at night and a place to look after the young children during the day.
Haiyan also destroyed 95 percent of the huts on the island of Leyte, and thousands drowned in the meter-high waves that rolled over the island after the typhoon. Here “Children in Need” financed the reconstruction of three children’s homes and 54 day nurseries. They not only provided temporary shelter for the homeless but also enabled children to be looked after during the day while their parents worked on rebuilding and ensuring their daily survival. In the last few months a total of 123,805 euros have been raised for the typhoon victims on the Philippines. The entire amount has been given to the local project managers. We are proud of the immaculate accounts which Father Max has kept of the funds and the rapid aid that has been provided for those affected. One thing is clear, however: the reconstruction is a huge task that will take years to complete.