Helping Communities Survive The Next Storm In The Philippines

 

Recipients of a shelter from our project with Handicap International (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Recipients of a shelter from our project with Handicap International (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

‘After surviving Typhoon Haiyan, we had to cope with three more typhoons. But now that we have moved into our new shelter, I know my family is finally safe.’ These are the words of Anna Lisa Calvadores, a young mother who lives in small, tight knit community on an exposed hillside in Eastern Samar in the Philippines. 
Toby Ash who is the Philippines country coordinator for ShelterBox, recently met some of the people who are involved with ShelterBox’s projects to create resilient ‘transitional’ shelters in the country following the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
For more than a year, Anna Lisa and her family lived in a tiny, makeshift shelter cobbled together from tarpaulins and materials salvaged from her old home, which was completely destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the country in November 2013.

The typhoon was one of the strongest storms ever recorded and destroyed not only homes and buildings, but people’s livelihoods too, leaving them without the income to start rebuilding. She and other vulnerable families are now moving into safe, resilient shelters being built by ShelterBox and our project partners across areas hardest hit by the disaster.

Anna Lisa Calvadores, who has recieved a new 'transitional shelter' as part of one of ShelterBox's projects in the Philippines. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Anna Lisa Calvadores, who has received a new ‘transitional shelter’ as part of one of ShelterBox’s projects in the Philippines. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

The generosity of our donors following the extraordinary scale of destruction wrought by Haiyan has enabled us to continue our assistance to those who lost their homes. Working in partnership with four larger international aid agencies, ACTED, Handicap International, Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we are constructing almost 1,700 ‘transitional’ shelters, made largely from locally sourced materials. We are working in Eastern Samar, where Haiyan first hit landfall, in Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban, and on the island of Bantayan.
In addition to the creation of the shelters themselves, the projects promote a wider understanding of how communities can best protect themselves in the future by passing on, and training carpenters in, techniques to rebuild safer shelters. In this way, communities are taking an active role in the recovery process and helping themselves to become more resilient to future disasters.
One such carpenter is 50 year old Nilo Visto, from the municipality of Alang Alang in northern Leyte, who underwent 15 days of training as part of the project we are carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED. He now has a certificate from the Philippines’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after demonstrating his knowledge of safe building practices. Since graduation, Nilo has helped construct 20 strong shelters for us in his village. With his newfound skills, Nilo believes that he will be able to find more regular work to help support his family and also be able to assist his neighbours rebuild safely.
Nilo Visto, who now has a certificate in safe building practices as part of  the project ShelterBox is carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED.  (ACTED/ShelterBox)

Nilo Visto, who now has a certificate in safe building practices as part of the project ShelterBox is carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED. (ACTED/ShelterBox)

The shelter projects we are supporting target the most vulnerable of society – often the elderly, physically challenged and families who have limited capacity to recover on their own. Other members of the community are often happy to help out with the construction work even though they will not be beneficiaries themselves. In Anna Lisa’s village, where we are supporting the work of CRS, we found a large group of residents busy making gravel from large boulders, which will be used in the foundations.
The projects we are undertaking also engage the wider community in build back safer awareness activities, from catchy build back safer songs to house-to-house visits. These activities clearly paid dividends in December last year when Typhoon Hagupit struck areas we are working in. This time they were far better prepared, with many households tying down their shelters and reinforcing their roofs in the hours before the storm hit. None of our newly built shelters sustained any damage.
The reality of climate change is that super typhoons such as Haiyan are no longer one off events. So far this year, the Philippines has already endured three powerful typhoons. Our continued engagement is helping to ensure they are better able to withstand extreme weather events in the future, minimising not only the future risk to life, but also the need for us to return with emergency aid in the years to come.

ShelterBox On Standby As Typhoon Hagupit Sets A Course For The Philippines

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Little more than a year after Typhoon Haiyan caused devastation across the Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit is on course to reach the country at the end of the week.
The tropical storm, which has now been reclassified as a super typhoon, is intensifying as it travels across water and is expected to reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour by the time it makes landfall.
Officials are predicting that Hagupit could follow the same trajectory as Haiyan, which could affect people that are still living in tents and temporary shelters following last year’s typhoon.
ShelterBox’s in-country team is liaising with the operations team in the UK to monitor the severity of the typhoon and decide whether a response will be needed. If so, the team will be able to distribute supplies, including ShelterBoxes and tarpaulins, that have been prepositioned at Clark International Airport in the Philippines.
ShelterBox has continued working in the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan first hit in November 2013.
In the first few months of 2014, we had sent more than 100 response volunteers to deliver aid to communities devastated by Haiyan and our commitment to people in the Philippines has continued throughout the year with the launch of four projects to deliver ‘core transitional’ shelters – resilient temporary structures that allow people to move on from living in emergency shelter.
Read more about ShelterBox’s continuing work in the Philippines to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.

‘Rice, Sugar and Salt’ – Lessons learned from seven months in the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

 

Toby Ash is the Philippines country coordinator for ShelterBox and has, along with our four project partners, been working to help construct almost 1,700 shelters for families affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck one year ago this week. In this personal reflection from Toby we hear about the difference ShelterBox is making in the region thanks to the support of our donors from around the world. 

‘When are you moving in?’ I asked a beneficiary of one of our newly built shelters yesterday. ‘Not until we’ve brought good luck to our new home,’ she replied. ‘The first things we bring in are containers of sugar, rice and salt. Then we will plant a Kalipayan (‘happiness’) tree by the foundations. Only then can we move in’.

So, yesterday was much like every other day of the last seven months I have spent here in the Philippines – it was a day of learning. I arrived here at the tail end of the emergency phase, some five months after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the country leaving more than 6,000 dead and a million homes destroyed. By April the basic needs of those affected had been largely met – most had access to some basic shelter to protect them from the elements. But travelling through the great swathe of the country that was affected, it was clear that the future of many of the Haiyan’s survivors remained precarious – the road to recovery would be long and difficult, and many would not be able to get there without further assistance.

ShelterBox was one of the leading international shelter agencies that responded to the typhoon last November. Over the course of more than five months we helped almost 7,000 households with more than 100 ShelterBox response team members distributing boxes, tents, shelter kits, solar lamps, water purification systems and other desperately needed equipment.

In many disasters, the provision of a tent and other household items are all that is required for those affected to start rebuilding their lives. But the scale of the damage wrought by Haiyan has made the process of recovery much more difficult. The typhoon destroyed millions of coconut trees, rice fields and thousands of fishing boats, leaving those who depend on them for their living without any income. And with no income there can be no rebuilding. Even those able to eke out a living are faced with the stark choice of having to put food on the table and sending their children to school or buying building materials. Then, of course there are society’s most vulnerable. How does a frail, elderly woman rebuild her home by herself?

 

Philippines country coordinator, Toby Ash (pictured center) in the Philippines

Philippines country coordinator, Toby Ash (pictured center) in the Philippines

 

Once the frenzy of the emergency phase had calmed, we began to look at how we might be able to continue our assistance to help these survivors recover from this devastating and traumatic event. I travelled extensively across the typhoon hit areas in a bid to better understand the needs of those affected and to look at how we could assist the most vulnerable, building on our legacy from the emergency stage.

Given our limited operational resources in the country, a key goal has been to identify project partners to help us continue with our work. The initial ground work on this was done by Sam Hewett, one of our operational co-ordinators who oversaw the emergency response in the early part of the year. Myself and Jo Reid, our projects consultant at HQ, followed a strict and rigorous criteria for selecting our partners that examined every aspect of their proposals including the nature of the shelter project, its location, the partner’s track record and the likely speed of completion.

Over the course of the summer we signed partnership agreements with four large international aid organisations – ACTED, Handicap International, Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services. In total we will be building almost 1,700 transitional shelters built mainly of locally sourced materials in four separate locations badly affected by the typhoon. Although not permanent, they are designed and built to be resilient. Each will meet the ‘build back safer’ guidelines as recommended by the International Federation of the Red Cross’ (IRFC’s) shelter technical team here.

But in many ways these projects are bigger than the individual shelters themselves. We are working with our partners to create shelters that can serve as exemplars of safe building practice in the communities they are built in over the coming months and years. Moreover, we are directly training carpenters and engaging the wide community in safer building practices, with the goal of leaving them better prepared for natural disasters in the future.

I have been a ShelterBox response team member for six years now and have delivered ShelterBoxes to many far flung places across the world. The last few months has been a different ShelterBox experience, but one that has been equally rewarding. Last week we handed over a specially adapted shelter to Conchita Suamer, a frail 89 year old woman, that will allow her to live in dignity after months in a tiny shack cobbled together from rusty lengths of corrugated iron. At this stage in the disaster, almost a year after the typhoon struck, a tent would be not be the right shelter solution for her. But the shelter we have built for her and her family is.

ShelterBox’s response to the calamity that hit this part of the Philippines last year, has been its most complicated and multi-faceted to date. Institutionally it has been a learning process, but one which will hold us in good stead in tackling the complex shelter issues that will invariably be thrown our way in the future. And what I have learnt? Many, many things but first and foremost, what a wonderful country the Philippines is and how warm-natured and resilient its people are. And of course to have a container of rice, sugar and salt in my home, and a ‘happiness’ tree planted close to its foundations.

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Typhoon Haiyan Remembered – Partnerships & Innovation

Typhoon Haiyan RememberedWhen Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines almost a year ago, experts called it ‘a true one hundred year event.’ As other charities and the world’s media descended upon Tacloban, ShelterBox concentrated its efforts upon trying to reach the more remote islands, assisting families whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the storm and for whom there seemed little hope of help. 

As has been the case in the past, offers of assistance for logistics began to trickle in to ShelterBox’s operation team and before long the offer of freight from Dubai to the Philippines was made to the team. Upon consultation and examination of the situation, ShelterBox’s logistics experts decided that sending tents would be the more effective first response aid, which was then followed by ShelterBoxes and other aid items. Several teams were deployed at once and soon ShelterBox had established a vast network of response teams operating across several islands working to get aid to families as fast as was possible under the challenging conditions.

As the momentum of ShelterBox’s response grew, and as a result of our donors overwhelming support, we took great pride in reporting stories of beneficiaries moving into ShelterBox tents. However it quickly became clear to us that a longer-term commitment was needed to fully accomplish what donors had entrusted us to achieve.

After around three months the need for tents for emergency shelter in the region was diminishing, but there remained a need for humanitarian assistance for these communities left still reeling from the devastation of the disaster.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer these communities. As we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters. And so it was that alongside tents, ShelterBox response teams also began to distribute Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.

Working in collaboration 

ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we began to investigate opportunities to collaborate with partners in the Philippines who could help us continue our commitment to helping families affected by Haiyan, several months after the Typhoon had first struck.

After a careful assessment process, we entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.

Designed to house a single family, the shelters are being constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process has ensured that we prioritise the most vulnerable.

This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The overall goal being to develop resilience in the region to future disasters.

‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

 

It is almost a year since the most powerful storm ever recorded hit the island communities of the Philippines. Thanks to the support of our donors, ShelterBox launched one of its largest responses to date and is still today committed to assisting families that were affected by the storm. Throughout the coming week we will look back on Typhoon Haiyan as we remember the communities in the Philippines that suffered at the violence of the storm, and the communities around the world that rallied together in their support. 

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013 claiming 6,200 lives and destroying a million homes. In the five months following the disaster, more than 100 ShelterBox response team volunteers have delivered emergency shelter to help over 7,200 families, including 1,513 ShelterBoxes. We distributed an additional 5,763 tents, but ShelterBox also provided other non-food items including 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes. On the day that Haiyan hit, a tropical storm expert speaking to the BBC said ‘Super Typhoon Haiyan really is a beast. One of the strongest storms ever recorded with sustained winds of 190 mph, gusting even higher.’

Prepositioned stock 

ShelterBox had already been responding to an earthquake in northern Bohol when the storm struck the region. Mark Dyer from the US and Paul Crudgington from the UK were two of the ShelterBox response team volunteers who sought shelter from the storm and who leapt into action once it had passed.

It was thanks to donors who had funded ShelterBox’s practice of prepositioning aid in key locations around the world that Paul and Mark, and later other additional response team members, were able to quickly release vitally needed aid from the former US air base at Clark on Luzon Island. Working with the operations team based in the UK, response teams sprang into action assessing where the need would be greatest. ShelterBox decided to focus its efforts on the areas that no other aid agencies had yet assisted, an approach which soon led the response teams to Bantayan island, off Cebu, where there was reported to be around 80% devastation.

 

The typhoon caused widespread damage throughout the Philippine archipelago

The typhoon caused widespread damage throughout the Philippine archipelago

Despite ShelterBox’s ability to mobilise a swift response the logistical challenges posed by the islands and the sheer number of boats and trucks that had been damaged by the storm, led to the decision to establish a team in Cebu. This team was tasked with ensuring the safe passage of aid and logistics, and several other teams then branched out onto other islands. The scale of devastation caused by Haiyan differed hugely from that of the earthquake which struck Haiti in 2010 and so our response had to be tailored appropriately. A major difference was that the main concentration of aid effort in Haiti was contained within one area located near the airport, allowing for the fast passage of aid. In contrast the teams in the Philippines were faced with weeks of island hopping aboard small boats and vehicles, significantly damaged communications infrastructure and drawn-out efforts to overcome transport challenges. Operations manager Alf Evans described the conditions as ‘the worst geography you could possibly come across for a natural disaster.’

Despite this the response effort continued, now growing to include teams operating across Tacloban, Panay, Cebu and Bantayan. As the operational commitment grew so too did the outpouring of support from supporters around the world.

A groundswell of support 

‘Reading about the Philippines. The typhoon has claimed the lives of 10,000 or more people. Never a better time to donate to ShelterBox.’ Tweet by acclaimed American author, Maureen Johnson. 

Even before ShelterBox had launched the Typhoon Haiyan emergency appeal, before we had received such magnificent outpourings of support from celebrities, authors, musicians and bloggers. Before all that we had learned of supporters mobilising their own fundraising efforts for ShelterBox across the globe in the hours after the disaster. Collections were held at local supermarkets, online fundraising pages were setup overnight, eBay auctions sprang to life and children even endured sponsored silences. Volunteers flocked to our warehouse in Cornwall to help pack ShelterBoxes and staff and volunteers worked around the clock to help get aid to the families in need. It was this groundswell of support that enabled ShelterBox to commit to helping communities in the Philippines and is the reason we continue to do so now, some 12 months on.

‘You have to remember that a lot of the more remote communities that were affected were previously dependent upon the fishing industry. Many of their boats and equipment were destroyed by the storm. Other communities made their living as coconut farmers and suffered similar loss of income too. Many of the coconut trees had taken ten years to grow and as a result of the storm they faced losing their entire income for the next ten years, overnight’ says Operations manager Alf Evans.

‘It was really important we did all we could to reach these communities and offer our support. The ShelterBox tents and non-food items meant that these communities could build shelter next to their destroyed houses, boats and farms and live there whilst they began rebuilding their livelihoods.’

Our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster. 

As ShelterBox’s response to Haiyan crept into week two it was heart-warming to hear stories from our response teams, of families on remote islands moving into ShelterBox tents.

 

Chip-chip is thankful to be safe and sheltered with his family again thanks to the aid from ShelterBox, November 2013.

Chip-chip is thankful to be safe and sheltered with his family again thanks to the aid from ShelterBox, November 2013.

 

On one such island, in the village of Machumben, lived one of the estimated five million children who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. His name was Chip Chip. He was, at the time of writing, five years old and was one of 18 in his family. Chip Chip’s mum was seven months pregnant. Thanks to the support of our donors, he and his family received a ShelterBox tent and other aid items allowing them to continue farming their land and beginning to rebuild their destroyed home.

Everyone at ShelterBox would like to thank our donors who expressed such immense generosity and allowed us to work to assist families following Typhoon Haiyan. As we approach the one-year anniversary of this response we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.

Ground-Breaking Projects For ShelterBox In The Philippines

Christine Mae Ofiasa and her (then) fourteen-day old baby, Rona Mae, were among some of the early recipients of a ShelterBox aid after Haiyan first struck, Bantayan, Philippines, December 2013.

Christine Mae Ofiasa and her (then) fourteen-day old baby, Rona Mae, were among some of the early recipients of a ShelterBox aid after Haiyan first struck, Bantayan, Philippines, December 2013.

 

ShelterBox continues to develop new shelter solutions to meet the needs of communities affected by disasters 

Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013, was the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, claiming 6,200 lives and destroying a million homes. In the five months following the disaster, more than 100 ShelterBox Response Team members delivered 7,000 tents, 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes.

But our assistance has not stopped there. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer. The ShelterBox is still at the heart of what we do, and our distinctive family relief tent remains a key part of most deployments. However, as we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters.

This is critical because all disasters are different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. As ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace explains: ‘We must constantly evolve as a charity and develop our aid, because different disasters need different responses.’

We have been growing our aid offering for some time now. In the response to Typhoon Haiyan, for example, alongside tents we also distributed Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.

We are now taking this process to the next level in the Philippines. After a careful assessment process, we have entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.

Designed to house a single family, the shelters will be constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process ensures that we prioritise the most vulnerable.

This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The goal is to develop resilience to future disasters.

As CEO Alison Wallace puts it: ‘How much better to rebuild in ways that will make communities more resilient to the next storms, and what better opportunity for ShelterBox to fulfill its commitment to be a real team player in meeting humanitarian shelter needs?’

ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we will continue to refine and develop the range of tools at our disposal to meet the specific shelter needs of communities affected by a disaster. And we will collaborate with an ever-increasing range of partners – from aid agencies to freight companies, and from government bodies to the UN Global Shelter Cluster that coordinates the efforts of the leading humanitarian shelter specialists.

This is all part of ShelterBox’s evolution into a flexible supplier of emergency shelter tailored to the needs of those whom we seek to help.

World Humanitarian Day 2014


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Bantayan Island, Philippines. November 2013. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded and also one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall. It has left a wake of destruction that still means families are dealing with a loss of shelter some nine months on. ShelterBox was quick to respond to the disaster and still has a presence in the region, working with partners to provide other types of aid that are more suited to the current need. 

ShelterBox videographer John Jones was part of a team who revisited the Philippines in July to meet with families who had received aid following Typhoon Haiyan. Here are his reflections:

‘There is one photograph that, for me, best describes the work our supporters do to help families who lose their homes. It was taken ten days after Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines in November last year. At the centre of the photo is a mother called Marilou Morante. She is 37 and stands with her tiny two-week-old baby, wrapped in a cream blanket. To the right is the wreckage of her home – a slumped building with punches in the wooden walls and a gape in the crumpled tin roof. On the left, her new home, a ShelterBox tent.

Only a week before Haiyan struck, Marilou had given birth to Xianiel. After the typhoon, she was finding life more than just uncomfortable. As well as trying to raise her newborn child in what remained of her home, she also suffered postnatal complications. To add to it all, their kitchen, their only form of protection from the rain, still flooded regularly from ground run off. After her labour, in those first days of recovery, she remembers crying. ‘Everything was wet’ she recalls, ‘…not a single dry cloth.’

She was unable to join the rush for aid, and her vulnerable condition meant that queuing for any length of time was not possible. This was why she was so relieved when ShelterBox volunteers arrived at her village, gave her a tent and put it up next to her broken home.

In July 2014 I visited the Philippines as part of a ShelterBox evaluation trip. We were to be based in Bantayan, an island that took a direct hit from the powerful winds of Haiyan. Bantayan also happened to be home to Marilou and her family of eight. Her new baby boy was one of six children. Although visiting Marilou wasn’t the main focus of our trip, we wanted to find her and discover what life has been like for her since the typhoon hit eight months before.

Early morning on our final day on the island and we find ourselves driving along a mud track which runs alongside the airstrip in Bantayan. In the near distance the tops of roofs poke out from the sparse shrub and brush. Marilou lives somewhere nearby. We hadn’t had the opportunity to arrange this meeting and this is our only opportunity to find her and Xianiel. As we near a collection of houses Ramon, our driver, pulls in to a stop.

We cross our fingers as we watch our translator walk over to a group of Filipino ladies and introduce herself. After a short chat she beckons us over. Marilou is a part of the group and happy to talk. Everywhere we went on Bantayan we were greeted with genuine warmth. Marilou herself smiles shyly and nods in welcome before inviting us to walk with her to her home.

The scene differs from the original photo. Things look neater and, most obviously, the tent has gone. Her house is not yet back to normal and parts of it still let in light and rain but their bedroom has a new roof and recently constructed wall.

Marilou’s husband works in construction, but his pay is low and only covers essentials, so rebuilding has been slow. Despite that they have rebuilt enough to give themselves permanent shelter and move back into their home. She tells us of her experiences and the help she has received from various agencies; a cash grant to help her with her new baby, materials for the roof and walls, and the nails to fix it all together.

I ask which of the help she received was the most useful to her since the typhoon. ‘The tent’ she says, tears welling up. She begins to describe the feelings of suffering in the days and weeks after the typhoon. But with the arrival of the ShelterBox tent they had somewhere comfortable where they could rest, sleep and stay dry.

Bantayan Islands, Philippines. July 2014. (John Jones/ShelterBox)

Bantayan Islands, Philippines. July 2014. (John Jones/ShelterBox)

Marilou agreed to pose for a photo, similar to the one taken days after the typhoon. This time without the tent.

When her story is told in this way, summing up eight months into only a few words, we skip the details of life and daily routine. But Marilou had to endure each day, her family searching for enough money to survive, let alone to rebuild.

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, Marilou had a place to live, to stay dry and keep her family safe through that difficult time.

Today is World Humanitarian day, and I urge you to spend a minute thinking about all of the good work that goes on around the world daily. Give thought to yourselves as donors, and to the volunteers who carry out the work on your behalf. It is you that makes it all possible.’

Typhoon Haiyan Beneficiaries Feedback Through Film

Bantayan town municipal hall, Bantayan island. June 2014. The participants watch each other's videos. The workshop relies on experiential learning; lessons are learnt through doing so and watching back through the videos is a really important part of the process. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Bantayan town municipal hall, Bantayan island. June 2014. The participants watch each other’s videos. The workshop relies on experiential learning; lessons are learnt through doing so and watching back through the videos is a really important part of the process. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

 

ShelterBox’s communications, development and operations teams have joined forces in the Philippines to carry out the disaster relief charity’s first monitoring and evaluation participatory video project with Typhoon Haiyan survivors.
Audiovisual officer John Jones and monitoring and evaluation coordinator Dr. Alison Ashlin are spending ten days on Bantayan island training a group of ShelterBox beneficiaries in basic filmmaking. They are using activities to encourage discussion about their recovery since Haiyan hit last November.
‘It is important that we run evaluation projects like this as without them we can never learn,’ said John Jones. ‘By having the confidence to ask our beneficiaries about the work we have done and how we can help even more in the future, we can change the way we work for the better, grow as an organisation, and ultimately strive to be as effective as we can with every penny of our donors’ money.’
Encourage honest stories
The 11 participants will develop content for video, which they will then go on to film and edit. By giving them complete ownership over the project, and by spending the days building up trust with them, ShelterBox hopes to encourage honest stories of their experiences living in ShelterBox tents, and providing them with a tool in which they can deliver this feedback. This will help ShelterBox continue to improve its emergency response and evolve for the better.
Bantayan town municipal hall, Bantayan island. June 2014. Participants work together to write a group agreement. This shared document will determine how they work together throughout the project. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Bantayan town municipal hall, Bantayan island. June 2014. Participants work together to write a group agreement. This shared document will determine how they work together throughout the project. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

 

‘We have just finished the first day of the workshop and we have come away feeling really proud of our participants!’ continued John. ‘They have no video experience at all but their first films are looking great. They seem really engaged and despite this whole workshop being a bit of a strange concept for them they have gone away really excited and looking forward to tomorrow.
‘On the short drive from the port to our accommodation I saw for the first time in context ShelterBox tents being lived in by families. It was a stark reminder of what all the work and effort of our volunteers, and support of our donors, actually means for families that need shelter.
Beneficiary insight invaluable
‘It is exciting for me to have the opportunity to now go even further than this and begin to meet and work with the family members that received our aid. Their insight is going to be invaluable and an important contribution to the success of ShelterBox’s work in the future.’
ShelterBox is still aiding Filipino families whose lives and livelihoods were shattered on 8 November 2013 by turning its attention to providing other types of aid that are more suited to the current need and working with partner aid agencies. Read more here.

Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan 6 Months On

6months

Half a year after the worst storm to ever make landfall hit the Visayan islands in the Philippines, ShelterBox is still aiding Filipino families whose lives and livelihoods were shattered on 8 November 2013. 

Typhoon Haiyan was a statistical and logistical nightmare. 14 million people faced its fury, and over 6,000 of them lost their lives. In the aftermath over a million homes lay destroyed or damaged, with 3.4 million people displaced and homeless. Communications and power lines had been severed, with roads, ports and airports unusable. 

Six months have passed since the typhoon, during which more than 100 ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) volunteers have worked in shifts to deliver aid to over 7,000 families, many of them in remote island communities. Almost 6,800 received tents, but in its most complex response ever to a natural disaster, ShelterBox also provided other non-food items including 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes. 

This video highlights ShelterBox’s disaster relief work there over the past few months. It introduces Marillio and her family who were the first to receive ShelterBox aid and includes a special message from the Mayor of Santa Fe, Kinatarcan island, to all those who donated in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan: 

 

Now the need for emergency shelter has diminished, ShelterBox is turning its attention to providing other types of aid that are more suited to the current need, such as kits containing tarpaulins, fixings and tools, helping families to repair their homes in this rainy and humid climate. This ability to be flexible and ‘think outside the box’ to meet different circumstances was a strategy established by the charity in 2011. 

‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’ 

Emergency and recovery phases blurred 

Alison visited the Philippines herself in February to see work in progress, and to meet beneficiaries, officials and partner organisations. She vividly recalls the utter devastation, both in urban and offshore communities. 

‘In circumstances like these the end of an ‘emergency’ phase and the beginning of ‘recovery’ become blurred,’ explained Alison. ‘All we have found is families caught somewhere between the two. And, quite frankly, definitions are less important than the humanitarian imperative to focus on what families actually need. Those needs are changing, but there are still so many ways we can help. Families may be repairing or rebuilding their homes, but for all there are still echoes everywhere of the devastation wrought on 8 November.’ 

‘Visible progress’ 

Toby Ash, Project Coordinator, is in the Philippines now, heading up ShelterBox’s ongoing response, liaising with local officials and managing partnerships with other aid providers. 

‘There has been visible progress, and you have to admire the resilience of the Filipino people in recovering from such a devastating event,’ added Toby. ‘The Philippines is a country where nature’s beauty and brutality sit side by side. The sad reality is that ShelterBox is sometimes called upon to give a helping hand to the country several times a year after extreme weather events and earthquakes. But we remain deeply committed to protecting the most weak and vulnerable here, through thick and thin.’ 

As always, ShelterBox could not have helped the Filipino communities without the support from its generous donors – thank you! Because of you we can also continue to help more families in need.

VIDEO: Latest From The Philippines

DAANBANTAYAN, PHILIPPINES. March 1 2014. Buhawe and his family will be living in a ShelterBox tent while they rebuild their house on the same plot. (John Cecil-Wright/ShelterBox).

DAANBANTAYAN, PHILIPPINES. March 1 2014. Buhawe and his family will be living in a ShelterBox tent while they rebuild their house on the same plot. (John Cecil-Wright/ShelterBox).

 

Four months on since Typhoon Haiyan hit and ShelterBox continues to help communities in need in the Philippines. This video provides an overview of ShelterBox’s response so far, introducing families that the charity has helped and showing some of the challenges faced in this complex disaster.


As always, a big thank you to all of our supporters around the world who have helped us bring vital aid to support these communities in the Philippines.