Ged’s reflections on the impact of Typhoon Haiyan

Ged’s latest blog discusses the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan and his visit to Daganas.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 8 2013.

At least 2 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the disaster and 23,000 houses damaged or destroyed.  The final death toll, though well in excess of 6,500, is still incomplete. It was then the second biggest Typhoon ever recorded with winds reaching 195 mph (Hurricane Katrina was 146 mph).

It was the first emergency I had come across in my work for CAFOD.  We were soon busy visiting schools and parishes updating people about the response and asking the Catholic community for financial support to help people get back on their feet.  Nearly four years on, I am in the Philippines with the chance to see for myself the of CAFOD’s support had helped to bring about.

At the time, I remember the pictures of almost total devastation in pictures from the eastern coastal districts of the country.  I spoke to Bishop John Arnold, CAFOD’s Chairman, not long after he became Bishop of Salford after his return from an early visit.  I remember him talking about the dignity of the people and how they were just getting on with the massive repair job with smiles on their faces.  Filipinos are used to such disasters and, expecting it, somehow seem to rise above much of the worst of such situations and combined with their culture of supporting one another, I’ve found here that things are pretty well back to normal.  20 – 30 typhoons a year are normal (along with 60 earthquakes, plus landslides, volcanic eruptions and so on).  The NASSA staff though were deeply shocked at the scale of the havoc the Typhoon wreaked.  There were stories of the Government reacting slowly but that wasn’t the case with the Church.  While CAFOD raised in the end £5.4m, NASSA was assessing the situation quickly with its Diocesan partners in the affected areas and making sure that people got what they needed and were in a position to use it.

In the time we’ve had, we were unable to fit in a visit to a Haiyan project.  However, NASSA had CAFOD money left over after responding to Haiyan and, by agreement with CAFOD, used it to support communities dealing with a similar severe Typhoon in 2015, Typhoon Melor.  Last weekend we went to one of those communities, Daganas, near Butan in Sorsogon Province where NASSA worked with their partner Diocesan Social Action Centre to help people get back on their feet.

Daganas, blog 3

A view of Daganas

Jimmy said that before the Typhoon came, 95% of the village were in poverty.

He described the work of NASSA as a great blessing and asked us to thank all the people from CAFOD who had made it possible.  “As we are blessed,” he said, “I know God will bless you all.”

Before the typhoon, all of the houses were simple and bamboo structures and the storm smashed many of them to pieces.  With money for materials and advice from engineers, local people rebuilt 25 of the houses with Typhoon- and earthquake-resistant materials on solid foundations.  Beyond supplying emergency food and water and ensuring the water supply and sanitation in the village was functioning, NASSA’s assessment had included what local people could provide including materials and labour for the rebuilding.  We visited one family who had sold their pigs to pay for the roof timbers while NASSA provided them with corrugated steel, concrete and technical advice.  Family and friends then rebuilt the house.  But the transformation didn’t stop there.  Once the community was back up and running, NASSA worked with them to strengthen the community by setting up a self-help group which meets weekly.  They now have a credit union with over 140 members which has saved £1,000 since January.  Their new ties make it easier for Anna and Conception, the two community health workers who are also Barangay Councillors, to help with child health and to keep adults safer too.

typical hut 3

A typical hut

The community lived largely off what grew in the forest that surrounds the village, particularly bananas which were sold at market.  The ground is fertile though difficult to cultivate because it’s on a hillside and the Typhoon made short work of the banana trees.  The response from NASSA and its partner was to help those interested in setting up small-scale animal farming and provided pigs and chickens to 35 households which had not had their houses rebuilt.  We visited several of these.

What is it like to meet someone who has received such support?  For me, one person whom I met was so shy and self-effacing I found I couldn’t ask her to revisit such terrible events even though there were so many things I would have liked to know.

Amy2.JPG

Amy

Like most of community, Amy and her family were made starkly aware of their own vulnerability by the Typhoon. It became clear to me that every day is a struggle for her and her children as she works and waits for the better life she hopes will be theirs and which, with CAFOD’s help, she is making a reality. My reaction was frankly to bow (inside!) before the Spirit of God because of the simple and dignified way she approached life and others given all that she had endured and the way she bravely and steadily was working her way forward.

Amys piglet 3

Amy’s piglet

I awkwardly asked a few practical questions: what is it like to look after the sow?!  “It’s OK,” she says, “but it takes a lot of water” which she has to keep fetching from the village pump at the bottom of the slope to water the pig and both clean it and the sty. Now she has her second litter of piglets.  We get talking – she is really proud of the piglets which are thriving.  From the first litter, she had not only fulfilled her commitment to pass on the gift of the sow by giving not one but two piglets to other families, but she was also able to send her daughter to school in Bulan with the money she made (2,000 Philippine pesos – about £33).  My colleague explains that she has continued to be generous with the second litter too promising one to another family and this startling generosity between people who have so little is something we come across throughout the village.

We met other villagers too, those with plans for a new start after reconstructing their houses and setting up a small convenience store.  One couple in particular were grateful for all the support NASSA had provided and gave us a large bunch of bananas and a huge jack fruit and papaya.  Such generosity was followed by a meal at Jimmy’s where we joined his family to celebrate their son passing his teaching exam.  He also gave our NASSA colleagues a ride on his tricycle as you can see!

A wonderful day!

Find out more about the work CAFOD does in the Philippines. 

Tricycle ride!

fruitgift3

The gift of fruit

 

St Joseph’s make a big splash for CAFOD!

The children at St Joseph’s Primary School in Anderton have been raising money for CAFOD’s Big Fish Appeal.  Mrs Fiona Brownsey: Headteacher reports that Class 5 performed an Assembly for parents during which they shared the story of Florence and the fish.

IMG_1618

The children at St Joseph’s inspiring us all!

“It was a great assembly and the whole school community responded very generously with their donations. Our children in Class 6 are planning some fun lunchtime stalls for the last week of term so that we can raise more money for the East Africa Crisis Appeal.”

 

Florence has responded with her friends and neighbours too by helping them in their turn to do the same so that now more families in her village have taken up the idea with the support of CAFOD’s partner who literally helps them to get started with tools, training, food and the baby fish.  They are helping themselves to make lasting changes. 

Fiona adds, “I am always very moved by the generosity which our children show when they hear about people around the world who are in need. One of our Year 6 pupils gave half of his birthday money recently towards the World Gifts appeal. I am very proud of the children at St. Joseph’s.”

Thank you for your magnificent example to us all!

Emma Rigby: Ambassador for CAFOD

Emma Rigby: ambassador for Caford

Emma Rigby is CAFOD’s newest Ambassador!

Emma Rigby has become an Ambassador CAFOD. The actor, who rose to fame as Hannah Ashworth in the soap opera Hollyoaks, grew up in St Helens and attended De La Salle High School there.

Emma said, “My Catholic faith is a huge, important part of my life, so it is brilliant to be able to collaborate with a charity that has the same values.”

Emma met Ged Edwards when she was Guest of Honour at De La Salle at their Annual Prize Giving ceremony in November.  When Laura Purves and Zoe Corden from the CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team were speakers at the CAFOD Carol Service at St Teresa’s Upholland on their work in Ethiopia in December, she took time out of her busy schedule to meet with us and confirmed her interest in supporting CAFOD when she moved to London in January.  We hope to see her supporting CAFOD Liverpool at some point!  Thanks again, Emma!

Emma Rigby

Colette, Emma, Laura and Zoe

Benjamin leads the way!

Benjamin has once again led the way for people who need our support overseas!  His parents Fiona and Bruce contacted us:

“For the fourth year in a row he has completed the Liverpool Fun Run.  Now that he is theben-moore grand age of eleven, he decided to move up from the 3km to do the 7km, which he completed in around 44 minutes.  With the support of friends, family and Corpus Christi Parish this year he raised £1,100.  This brings his four-year total to £3,280.

Best wishes

His Proud Parents                                           Bruce and Fiona.”

Isn’t that fantastic!! 

Thanks very much, Benjamin!  It makes a huge difference I hear the family also brought a friend along this year to join in which is great too.

For us, this is a great example of not only young people being a shining example to others but of the family nature of the Fun Run!

 

For those who are still collecting in their sponsorship, thanks very much!  Every pound really makes a difference so please do what you can to get the sponsorship and donations in. 

If you would like to find out more about why Benjamin’s support is so important and to support the Ethiopia Food Crisis Appeal, you can do that here.

For everyone, please come and join in the Fun next December as a participants or by giving a bit of time to help it go well on the day.  It’s the same time, and place – 1pm on 27 December at Wavertree Athletics Centre for the 34th CAFOD Fun Run around “The Mystery” Park!  It’s a great occasion!  Contact us for more details 0151 228 4028 liverpool@cafod.org.uk.

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – ASOMUPRO: How can one person make a difference in the world?

CAFOD blog

Chrisis one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers working for the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. He’s currently in Nicaragua to see CAFOD’s work and has sent back this blog:

“How can one person make a difference in the world?” It is a hard question to answer.

At the start of our trip Vicky, one of our kind accompaniers, explained to us how ASOMUPRO – the association of women producers who we spent the week with – starts making a difference with the women they work with. They do this by giving women the opportunity to start believing in themselves. ASOMUPRO says that in the Nicaraguan machista society, once women start saying “I can” that is half the battle won. And it is surprising how much the phrase “I can” came up throughout our week with ASOMUPRO.

Here is one of the…

View original post 310 more words