Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
‘The immense devastation on Leyte island is difficult to comprehend,’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Marie Vincent. ‘At first glance when you scratch the surface you soon learn that the typhoon also destroyed people’s livelihoods and has left the survivors with traumatic psychological scars. There are children who cannot make eye contact, individuals who are struggling to find the motivation to move on and an underlying anxiety that it will happen again. The economical and human recovery will take years rather than months.’
It may be nearly three months since Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines but the people have far from forgotten. Aid agencies like ShelterBox are still finding pockets of previously unrecognised need to address and continue to bring shelter and vital aid to communities who have been left with nothing.
‘As the scale of the disaster area is so vast, we’ve been working in partnership with other organisations to join resources and maximise our combined reach,’ said SRT member Steve Crabtree. ‘In this instance we joined up with Handicap International (HI) who were already assessing some hard-to-reach areas to the west and south of Tacloban, on the island of Leyte.’
One of the villages where ShelterBox and HI have been working together is Cancajara in the Pastrana municipality. It is a deeply rural area where the main source of income is agriculture though the local cocoa plantations have suffered heavily from the storm. As a result, rebuilding is likely to take years for a family.
This is the case for the Esperanza family. 80-year-old Dora is a mother of two still caring for her sons who are both in their fifties and work as rice and cocoa farmers. They had lost their home in the storm and had built a dangerously unstable makeshift shelter that did not meet the minimum humanitarian needs requirements. This is where ShelterBox came in.
‘Regain sense of normalcy’
Sophie Meingast is Handicap International’s Project Manager in their Emergency Response Division:
‘Providing a Shelterbox as emergency shelter following typhoon Yolanda has been great for the most vulnerable households,’ said Sophie Meingast, HI’s Emergency Response Division’s Project Manager. ‘Including items such as kitchen sets and toys for the children in the box allows families to regain a sense of normalcy following the catastrophe.’
Marie added, ‘In Pastrana we distributed ShelterBox aid to some of the most vulnerable families. This may only be a small contribution to the overall recovery but the family hugely appreciated the help. One of the sons kept repeating ‘salamat, salamat, salamat’ meaning ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’. It is important to pass on this thanks to our donors.’
On behalf of the families in the Philippines, we would like to say a big thank you to all of our donors and supporters who have helped us bring shelter and other vital aid to nearly 4,500 families. Thank you!