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From the Field

Typhoon Hagupit: an update

A little over a week ago Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as Ruby) bore down on the Eastern Samar province and proceeded to move achingly slowly westward across the country.

Homes and boats in the coastal town of Dolores in Eastern Samar are destroyed in the wake of Typhoon Hagupit (photo courtesy of Reuters)

In the days following Typhoon Ruby, PECOJON (the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network) deployed teams to assess the damage in Samar. 6 barangays and 2 municipalities were evaluated in North Samar, West Samar, and East Samar “to help inform a responsive and effective relief effort” (Typhoon Hagupit Initial Rapid Assessment Results).

In their initial findings they discovered that, unsurprisingly, children are the most vulnerable in this situation. Lack of access to water, food, safe shelter, education, and healthcare services all play a role in this exposure. PECOJON also found that 30-50% of those surveyed said children are distraught and physically unable to attend school.

Their results also revealed that food, shelter, and income sources are among the top needs of the people surveyed across all provinces. Food stocks have been destroyed with about PHP 1.9 billion worth of destruction to agriculture. Due to the shortage of food, prices have risen while the inability to pay for food due to the lack of income sources takes a major toll.

A resident of Taft in Eastern Samar holds a sign expressing the needs of those in the area (photo courtesy of Francis Malasig/EPA)

Damaged homes were cited as the second most pressing problem in Samar. PECOJON lists that materials to repair houses such as tarps, tents and ropes are some solutions to alleviate this need. Also there is a great demand for sleeping mats, cooking ware, clothing and footwear, blankets, and hygiene items.

As for the livelihood and income sources factor, problems are wide-ranging. There is a lack of employment opportunities as some found Typhoon Ruby has destroyed their means for income. For example in coastal towns such as Dolores and Santa Rita, in Eastern and Western Samar respectively, farming and fishing are major sources of livelihood. It has been reported that fishing equipment, including boats, have been lost or destroyed.  As mentioned before, huge amounts of agricultural fields have been ruined as well.

In response to the vast extent of need in various parts of Samar, Volunteer for the Visayans has focused relief efforts in barangay Can-avid in Eastern Samar. VFV director ­­­Helena Claire Canayong recognizes it is better to focus adequate coverage in one barangay at a time. In the after effects of Typhoon Haiyan last year, it was found that relief work was overlapping in some barangays, while others were left with no aid whatsoever. This time around she says better organization is in place, communicating with other organizations as to which barangays are being helped and which still need assistance.

The roads in Samar also suffered damages so planning transportation and routes to travel to remote areas of the province has been an obstacle. However during this week, VFV will deliver necessary items to Can-avid such as rice and hygiene kits.

There is still a tremendous need for basic goods and supplies all across Samar. If you are interested in joining relief efforts carried out by VFV, please consider donating. Click here to learn more about how you can help.

*written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the US


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Typhoon Hagupit whips through the region

The anticipation for Typhoon Hagupit, or Ruby as it’s called in the Philippines, was almost as intense as the storm itself. After the extreme devastation of last year’s Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), warnings were heeded and precautions taken with urgency.

The view from the Tacloban City Convention Center shows the roof over Gloria and Liza's store has been dismantled

Ruby touched down Saturday night around 10pm in Eastern Samar province with forceful winds of up to 140km/h causing damage to houses, trees and, power lines. Due to heavy rain and storm surges, flooding has also been an issue throughout the typhoon’s path.

Tacloban City, however, breathed a sigh of relief Sunday morning when it’s residents awoke to little damage and only light flooding in some areas. Though roofs were torn off and power has been out for three days now, survivors of last year’s typhoon know how fortunate they are, especially because Typhoon Ruby caused no casualties in the area.

Volunteer for the Visayans has begun relief efforts in and around Tacloban City. Rice, hygiene kits, and other goods are being distributed to sponsored children and those affected most in the area.

Waterside markets in downtown Tacloban City are left disheveled the day after Typhoon Ruby whipped through the area

But because the island of Samar suffered the most damage, Volunteer for the Visayans has chosen to focus on relief efforts taking place there.  Still reeling from the destruction of Typhoon Yolanda, Samar is in great need of food supplies, water, and materials for rebuilding.

Reconstruction is not a one-man job, and thus requires the support of people from all over the world. If you’d like to donate to the rebuilding efforts in Samar please click here.

*written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the US


Posted in Disaster Relief, Donate, News, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Constructing school chairs with self-reliance

The Tacloban Persons with Disabilities Multi-Purpose Cooperative, or TAPDICO, located in barangay Abucay of Tacloban City, is a government-run program that employs about 30 people with mental, physical, and/or sensory impairments. Their job is to build armchairs for schools, from start to finish.

This past week, Volunteer for the Visayans began sending volunteers to TAPDICO, working wherever need be. Tyler, from the United States, was the first volunteer to be sent and spent his first day sanding wood that would become the seat of an armchair.

Tyler, VFV volunteer, sands wood that later becomes the seat of an armchair.

The process of building a single armchair, which on average takes 30 minutes, involves welding, cutting wood, sanding and painting. The staff of TAPDICO produces two types of armchairs. A steel and wood combination is available, and can be fabricated entirely at their workshop in Abucay. For the steel and plastic combination, they weld the steel into a frame, and send it to Manila to be finished with plastic. Armchairs are then distributed to various schools in the area.

Often times the National Council on Disability Affairs contracts out TAPDICO, giving the program a certain number of chairs to complete within a specific deadline. A long-term goal of VFV’s involvement with TAPDICO is to also provide these types of contracts. Employees are paid depending on output for each week.

A worker paints some of the school chairs outside the workshop.

Gemalyn states, “ We want to show people that being disabled does not mean you have to live on the streets. It is possible to still be self-reliant.”

She adds, “Because they’ll know the chairs they are studying on are built by people with disabilities, we hope to encourage students to work harder in school.”

While the furniture built is impressive, the most inspiring aspect of TAPDICO is its people. Forced to work considerably harder due to their impairments, makes the project and its products all the more noteworthy.

If you’d like to get involved with this project or others like it, click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with VFV.

*Written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the US



Posted in Donate, News, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment
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