A letter from the Philippines
British Humanitarian Aid worker, Linda Cruse, who is at the centre of a typhoon that lashed the Philippines is scrambling to gather emergency food and hygiene supplies for vulnerable families in the remote northern village Carles in Iloilo province on Panay Island.
Sysdoc is proud to support Linda and Be the Change, www.lindacruse.com at this critical time. We have a team on the ground with Linda and have been providing critical financial support to assist with community livelihood recovery.
Linda has sent us the following update:
Yesterday I made a reconnaissance trip to Carles village. I needed to see for myself the conditions.
Roads are good. Banana trees and coconut trees suffered the most - a lot blown down. When I reached we were welcomed with cries of happiness. There was still no electricity. The most critical focus was food. The villagers have not been able to fish, work on the land, sell their goods for 3 days and their resources are gone.
We have brought basic provisions for 500 vulnerable families. Six men from my Be The Change community, fishermen, carpenters, fruit sellers and I sat on the floor and with just the glow of an emergency light, sweat dripping off my nose in the intense heatwave made 500 packs of food - each included three tins of sardines, 5 packets of dried noodles and 3kgs of rice. One small pack per family.
As I did my repetitive part on the conveyor belt of packing the emergency life-saving food my mind wandered to Christmas and how so many families will start soon to wrap their Christmas presents. A similar scene. It's a special time of the year when we give and share as a community.
Today we are checking on the health and status of home, food and most importantly livelihood - did their means of earning a living survive the storm, for each household and giving them the food packs, soap and sanitary pads. We need to keep infection at bay and hygiene is key.
What I feel so proud about is that we had a good level of preparedness ....as you know I have been working here post typhoon Haiyan for over a year. When the government warning came regarding Hagiput in the villagers knew what to do - hence no lives lost in my area. Even the boats were pulled out of the water and put in the safest place. We have great community leaders here.
The community worked together - we rounded up the weak, old and vulnerable and put them in the most sturdy buildings - the school and officials room.
We had some communication - walkie talkies provided a level of communication that connected the homes in the more remote areas.
Finally today the rain and wind has stopped, the sun has come out and you can feel the people relaxing a little. Just one of my most vulnerable families was reluctant to leave the school shelter. All now have returned home.
It's a day of assessing damage. The resilience of the people in Carles is astonishing. They are the forgotten people. They don't expect help so they just do what they can. And in the Filippino style with a smile on their face.
My focus before this typhoon hit was economic empowerment through a hand up not a hand out - I want the people to be independent with self-esteem and dignity. Each family is helped to have their own means of earning their own money according to their skills, education and passion. We take time to form market driven long term sustainable co-operatives. I will not just make people busy - it needs to be a long term sustainable business.
It seems that none of the businesses we started post typhoon Haiyan have been destroyed - so that is wonderful.
Your co-operative projects are shaken but not too much damage! Yipee ....!!!
After the next few days of emergency work Be The Change will return our focus again to longterm recovery work - the pig co-operative, the community garden, the tailoring co-operative.
The community are so grateful to the donors who have not forgotten them - thank you.
The 500 families in the village that I am in lost almost everything during typhoon Haiyan - so you can imagine the level of fear that was racing through their veins with typhoon Hagupit. That is why apart from livelihood recovery I always have a focus on psychological recovery - my main themes are sports and magic!
Just before typhoon Hagupit hit you kindly sponsored the construction of a community basketball court. The 18 team league had just started just a week ago - the community were brought together in fun, laughter and sharing for the first time since Haiyan. The sudden arrival of the typhoon interrupted it ...but ….great news ...I observed the basketball court yesterday - it needs a good clean up - but its totally OK and the villagers gathered asking when the league can re-start! Thank you so very very much!
I live by a few mantras
- 'A hand up not a hand out'
- Recovery Takes Time
- Build Back Better.
We are fulfilling them here with a large dose of hugs and love. The villagers need it.
We will be sleeping in the council building with no shower - there is a toilet but no flush. We do have electricity so we can use a fan! so grateful for that as the heat here is so very intense.Linda Cruse