Social Work

There is Hope after Yolanda struck Leyte

operation compassion

One of the blessings this year is being able to fulfill my dream of being a freelance writer. Operation Compassion made my dream of helping out Typhoon Yolanda victims a reality. 

Operation Compassion (OC) Philippines is an NGO helping disaster-stricken communities such as those struck by natural calamities. OC flew me to Leyte late May this year to see the rehabilitation programs they have begun since last year. Before flying down South, I did not know what to expect from the place. Much of what has been televised was the devastation, but now I go here to witness one thing the world has clamored over to give them: hope.

operation compassion

Banca-Anihan

Right off the plane, we got to work immediately by visiting the preparations made for the banca-making training session in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Philippines).

Typhoon Yolanda destroyed thousands of traditional outrigger boats (bancas). In order to restore the source of livelihood of the fisherfolk, WWF donated resources to create fiberglass boats, which is more environmentally-friendly than donating wooden boats because it eliminates the need to cut down trees. The fisherfolk will not only be compensated for the boats they create after the fiberglass boat-making seminars, they were also educated about environmental sustainability and boat-making technology.

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Transitional Shelters

Families affected by the typhoon lost their homes to the winds of Typhoon Yolanda. During the first weeks, they lived in fear of looters and criminals, of more disaster coming their way, of depleting food provisions and even for the health of their young ones. Some families were forced to live in tents and evacuation centers for an extended period of time, packed closely with other families. Relief, mobilization and rebuilding of permanent homes take time.

The answer to this dilemma has been transitional shelters. OC collaborated with organizations in order to provide shelter for disaster-stricken communities. Using lightweight materials such as sawali, or woven split bamboo mats commonly used to construct nipa huts, and solar light lamps for lighting, a family of 7 can fit comfortably into a home before moving in to their permanent homes.

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Pamay-Anihan

Transitioning families are encouraged to cultivate vegetable gardens right at their backyard to promote food sufficiency. Most of them do not have a background prior to planting, and have learned via trial and error and even sharing tips from NGOs and among their neighbors.

These greens have beautifully peppered the communities and families are able to source out their vegetables right outside their homes. The typhoon has also allowed the soil to be rich in minerals, making the plants grow faster and healthier.

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Feeding Program

In order to combat malnutrition among transitioning families, OC conducts a 6-day-a-week meal in the afternoon. Pre-school aged kids get to eat homecooked meals every 4PM to help assist their nutrition intake. Mothers are also involved in the food planning and preparation. This has become a regular meeting place for the kids to share meals with their neighbors and playmates.

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Hope in Leyte

The toughest times can truly bring out the best in people. When I roved around the transitional shelter sites in Mayorga and some areas in Tacloban, I have heard stories of hope and sharing not just from international organizations but among typhoon victims who by themselves are only trying to rise up from the effects of the disaster.

In one site, a landowner lent her land for free and for an indefinite period of time in order to house her neighbors who used to live near the coastal areas. Neighbors actively rebuild each other’s homes and livelihood, sharing with each other the provision given to them. And finally, kids are finally back to school and playing on the streets like they were supposed to.

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A Witness

The trip to Leyte was a surprise blessing for me. Like many others, I’ve planned on flying to Tacloban to volunteer or donate relief goods. Close friends have organized themselves to donate goods and cash to typhoon victims, we have even held an Ultimate for a Cause, a Bazaar for a Cause, and lots of other creative means to rebuild disaster-stricken communities. I was really lucky that I got to see the place where all these efforts go.

At one of the houses we visited, Kuya Ricky and I were able to minister to a home. Even though the visit was not planned, Tatay and Nanay served us with the best that they had — noodles, bread and some spread to go with it. We really wanted to refuse their hospitality, but they also ended up picking squash and upo from their backyard garden for us to take home.

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Social Work stripped down

I am also blessed by the lives of the social workers who have dedicated their lives improving the lives of others. I used to think social work is easy because of the philanthropic high — the good feeling that comes from helping out. But in truth, social work is far from comfortable or convenient, but absolutely necessary in this country where apathy can take over.

It takes a lot of smarts, guts and drive to leave home and develop strategies day in and day out knowing that the living conditions of big communities depends on your work. I have huge respect for these heroes whose names may go unpublished but have served the country without second thought and much fuss.

operation compassion leyte
I hope that true to MacArthur’s famous line in his famous landmark here in Leyte, that I will also be able to return to Leyte.

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39 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Curly sue review
    August 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM

    It seems like such a beautiful place. It’s so sad when people have their lives destroyed like this. But as you say, they have hope and as long as you have hope you can keep going. The fact that people with no growing experience can grow veg shows how resilient we can be. I hope things keep improving for them.

  • Reply
    Marce
    August 19, 2016 at 10:42 PM

    Thanks for this great post

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE
    August 3, 2016 at 12:07 AM

    They decided to leave Eva Jocelyn behind as a monument of some sort. That ship is not meant to be a reminder of the tragedy where thousands of lives were wiped out on the day Typhoon Haiyan lashed out at Tacloban. If you read the writings on the hull, you will see at least one of the writing that says Tacloban will rise again.

    That is human nature. Survive. Now what you guys have done is to make survival easier for these less fortunate people. Well done.

  • Reply
    Zwitsy
    May 5, 2016 at 2:52 AM

    I really admire how most Filipinos deal with problems most especially in times like this. Glad that you guys were able to visit the place and see how people live the life after the calamities. Good thing to know too that there are organizations alike that constantly offer help without second thoughts. Thanks for sharing this awesome HOPE from Leyte.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      May 10, 2016 at 2:54 PM

      Thank you for this. We really have been through a lot. Sometimes I don’t know how we can handle it too. We seem to stay positive even after the worst. It’s almost heartbreaking.

  • Reply
    Clair Kelly
    April 30, 2016 at 3:55 AM

    What a beautiful and uplifting post. i love to read stories of hope.I have never heard of operation compassion before, but they sound like a wonderful organisation

  • Reply
    Rescue 926 Graduation — Toughening up to Respond to Disasters | Team 926
    August 13, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    […] of the disaster and only hope from afar for things to get better. And especially when I came to Tacloban months after the devastation, I realized I wanted to be there personally to provide care, and possibly, grieve and hope with the […]

  • Reply
    Rescue 926 Graduation — Toughening up to Respond to Disasters | FOLLOWYOUROAD
    February 12, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    […] of the disaster and only hope from afar for things to get better. And especially when I came to Tacloban months after the devastation, I realized I wanted to be there personally to provide care, and possibly, grieve and hope with the […]

  • Reply
    Eileen Serapio
    July 30, 2014 at 4:12 AM

    It’s really inspiring to see someone so young (and a fellow Iska) very eager to help out our kababayans in Leyte. Keep up the good work! God bless you for all that you’re doing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Alaine
    July 26, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    I miss Leyte – where everyone is nice. I wish I can back soon.

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    July 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Tacloban has been through a lot and they need alll the help that we could give them.

  • Reply
    Leira Bhagwani Pagaspas
    July 26, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    I am glad that the boats from WWF are already in Tacloban to help the fisherfolks.

  • Reply
    Bhuboy
    July 25, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    You can really imagine how strong that typhoon was by seeing that boat in the land

  • Reply
    GracefulMist
    July 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    The fifth photo reminds me of the older times in the Philippines. Thank God there have been improvements.

  • Reply
    aprilandthecity.com
    July 24, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    It’s so inspiring to see people in our age help out without asking for anything in return. God bless you sis for helping these people out.

  • Reply
    FX777 Classified Articles
    July 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Very kind of you to be there and help them with your own prowess. Thanks for posting lady

  • Reply
    Fred
    July 24, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Very touching to see these photos and to read about real life heroes who tirelessly work to serve the under-served. Kudos to OC.

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    July 23, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    The fiber glass boats with really help them in their livelihood. I remember Nat Geo also had fiber glass boats as one of their advocacy project during this year’s Nat Geo Earth Day Run.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      That’s a great insight for the Nat Geo Earth Day run 🙂 It was also the first time, when I visited Tacloban, that I learned of this. What’s great is that they can be made as pretty as our traditional bancas.

  • Reply
    kumiko mae - beauty blog philippines
    July 23, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    Frewlance writing truly has its gifts! Not a lot of people understand how mind even world opening it is to just be out there and write

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      True! I’m glad I’m given this stint with an NGO that is aligned with my likes 🙂

  • Reply
    Patty | MrsC
    July 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    I’ve visited Tacloban before and it really is a great place. The people there are so nice! It’s heart breaking tuloy that they are not 100% up and running yet. It’s so nice of you to do something to help.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Thank you! I know a lot of people who want to help. I’m really lucky that I was sent there and saw the situation with my own eyes. It was heartbreaking, but hope-filling too 🙂

  • Reply
    Graceful Mist
    July 22, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    Hello. It`s great for you to help them. Although, I didn`t flew there to help, I got the chance to help in the packing of goods a few months ago. We can help in small little ways.

    http://gracefulmist.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    franckxethee
    July 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Your mere presence in the island really uplifted their situation and lightened up their situation.

  • Reply
    Eng Tinkham
    July 22, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    A very inspiring cause! Keep up the great work!

  • Reply
    Vance
    July 22, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    Hats off to people like you who are sharing their God given talents for a good cause. I love to do something like this in the future if given the chance to do so.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Thank you! But really I was a mere short-term witness. The applause goes to social workers who really dedicate their lives into this cause 24/7 🙂

  • Reply
    Bhuboy
    July 20, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Im glad to see that there has been some improvement in the area

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Me too. Lots of people both in and out of the country have really helped the town

  • Reply
    Eng Tinkham
    July 19, 2014 at 4:05 AM

    This is a great cause, I have always wanted to join this kind of organization. It’s a good way to give back. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      The rainy days are here, I’m sure there are lots of organizations willing to open their doors for volunteers like us 🙂

  • Reply
    Janice / The Roller Coaster Ride
    July 19, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    Wow, such great efforts from Operation Compassion. Kudos to them for everything they have done for the people of Leyte. My mom is from that province but I haven’t been there yet. Hope to visit it one day. This was such a great experience for you to have.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Where in Leyte specifically? For me, I wanted to take photos at the San Juanico bridge! I wasn’t able to the last time I visited

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    July 18, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    It’s really touching to see operation compassion be able to alleviate the suffering of people in Tacloban as they have been through a lot.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 24, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      I am also pleased with the idea that they help disaster-stricken areas specifically. It really is hard to get aid around, and typhoon frequent the country so much. There has to be people focusing on them.

      • Reply
        Franc Ramon
        July 25, 2014 at 8:29 AM

        That’s true. There are areas like this that needs attention and I’m glad there’s someone stepping up to that role.

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