It’s hard to imagine how many families are able to survive after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines. 12 million have been affected, millions are without homes, electricity and basic necessities, and they need our help.
Punta Buri is a tiny remote island, a one-hour boat ride from the main island of Panay in Central Philippines. A fishing community, this once green and lush island is now brown and barren, with trees blown down and wreckage everywhere; devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
Far from media attention or international relief efforts, it was three days after the typhoon struck that the destitute residents of Punta Buri received aid from their local government. And what little they did receive was not even enough for one day’s meals.
Joel Caneso is the Barangay Captain (village leader) on his small island of Logingot. His community was totally devastated by the typhoon. With no electricity or way to communicate with the mainland, and with all of the boats damaged, people on the island started to panic. He said “what the people of Logingot experienced during the typhoon is too horrible to describe or even imagine.” Joel knew that without help, his people wouldn’t survive. So he found a mattress, and fashioned a raft to swim to the mainland to ask for help for his village.
Stella Jano tearfully told ICM staff of her escape from the Typhoon. Dragging her two grandchildren with her, they fled their home chased by huge tsunami-like waves, which flattened everything in their path. They had to crawl on hands and knees up the mountain to avoid the children being blown away by the winds. They eventually made it to the evacuation center. In the height of the storm, Stella’s husband heroically rescued two of his neighbours who had climbed a tree to try to escape the waves. As they were reunited at the center, Stella shared what little food she had with them.
In the panic during the hours when the typhoon hit, Leo’s wheelchair-bound mother was unable to evacuate. Fearing for her life, Leo picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her up the mountain to safety. Saving his mother’s life meant he lost everything else. He couldn’t bring anything with him. With no source of income, he says he is now totally dependent on any relief goods that have come to the island for food and clothing.
“We lost our home, we lost everything.” Thousands of people are thankful that their lives were spared. But they are lives with a very bleak outlook; no shelter, no electricity, no livelihood, scarce clean water. No hope. These people don’t just want to survive. They want to live. They want to rebuild. They want to make a better life for their children than they have had. We can help them do that.
ICM’s disaster fund is bringing hope and tangible change in many different ways to thousands of families in the Western Visayas. We’re starting with the basic necessities that keep people alive: food, water, medicines. Then we progress to longer term needs such as rebuilding homes, churches and community centers, boats and infrastructures.
But immediate efforts can be futile if we don’t partner for the future with communities. ICM can’t just be a “band-aid” solution – we need to find the cure. In response to the typhoon, we are launching two new operational bases to reach out to affected regions with our poverty reduction programs. Our Transform Program brings the support, training and resources that equip the poor to rebuild their lives. These bases will run intensive, community based, holistic programs in 80 communities, positively impacting 12,500 family members.
So much need remains. Let’s not forget about the Philippines. Join our efforts to rebuild lives here.