Two years on from the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), thousands of Filipinos from seafaring communities are benefiting from the rebuilding programme provided by maritime charity Sailors’ Society.
On 8th November 2013, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall struck the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving millions without food, shelter or livelihood.
Having raised £225,000 in an emergency appeal, Sailors’ Society partnered with Habitat for Humanity Philippines and the Homer Foundation and began a campaign to help rebuild communities affected by the super Typhoon.
Sandra Welch, Sailors’ Society’s Director of Programme, said: “We have long offered chaplaincy and welfare support to seafarers in the Philippines. When the typhoon struck, it was vital that Sailors’ Society acted to provide dedicated emergency support and longer-term relief to those who had had their lives torn apart.”
The Rebuild Philippines campaign has delivered 48 new typhoon and earthquake resilient homes for seafarers’ families, fishing boats for seafarers’ families who need this supplementary income to get back on their feet and a dedicated family outreach worker providing trauma counselling and specialist help. Three port chaplains are working with seafarers and their families, offering financial and spiritual support.
Sailors’ Society chaplain Jasper del Rosario, said: “The young widow of a seafarer was stripped of all means to support herself after the storm. Her home was devastated and her business destroyed. Nothing was left, only thick, black mud inside her ruined home and dead bodies of her neighbours and friends lay around. She was crying when she asked: “How can I look after my children?” We recommended grants to help her support her family and rebuild her home and business. Her eldest son wants to become a seafarer someday like his dad.”
Some 4,500 schools were damaged or destroyed in the disaster and Sailors’ Society has built classrooms that double as emergency community shelters. More than 1,500 students and teachers will benefit from these new buildings and equipment, including bikes for students to travel the often long distance to school. Two newly built medical/community centres are also providing vital health facilities and meeting points.
Ms Welch added: “Thousands of lives are now getting back on track as a result of our joint relief efforts, but the development work is ongoing and, for many, the emotional scars are still healing. In 2016, Sailors’ Society plans to build more homes and medical centres for seafaring communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan, as well as continuing to provide welfare and emotional support.”