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A Heifer farmer unaffected by typhoon Haiyan donates clothes to families in need.

On this day of giving thanks, Heifer International is humbled and grateful for the faithful and dedicated donors who give so generously to the cause of ending hunger and poverty. This year, we're including an even bigger thank you to those who have helped our farmers in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan devasted the central region in early November.

It’s because of you that so many of our farmers there are receiving assistance for their immediate needs of food, water and shelter. We are thankful that 100 percent of our families are safe and even though they have much rebuilding ahead of them, they are strong, resilient and will rebuild their lives. 

The real, touching story, however, sent to us by our field staff, comes directly from one of our project partners, the Bicol Upland Resources Development Foundation, Inc. (BURDFI). It's a lesson in showing gratitude for what you have.

Almost 600 Heifer farming families in the area were among the survivors of what is considered the strongest typhoon to ever hit land in recorded history. People in this remote area were waiting for days before they could get relief from the government, agencies and organizations. The situation was aggravated by bad road conditions from the larger cities to the rural areas where our farmers live. 

In response, one week after the typhoon, BURDFI spearheaded a relief effort for the partner families in Calubian. BURDFI and its affiliate organization, Countryside Multiline Cooperative, were able to generate nearly $5,000 cash and several boxes of used clothing. The management and staff even donated part of their salaries. They dubbed this effort, "Sharing and Caring Operations for Haiyan Victims." 

"I am moved by the generosity and selfless act of my colleagues. It is like seeing Passing on the Gifts principles in action," said Danilo Cereno, the chief operating officer of CMC.

Partner families from different communities involved in the Heifer and BURDFI project also donated some goods and used clothing. "May this little gift from us here in Bicol help our fellow SHG members in Leyte," said Salud Bulawan, a partner family from San Vicentes, Camarines Norte. "We will continue to pray for the speedy recovery and rehabilitation of their place and people. I know they can all rise above this," she said.

BURDFI staff and Community Facilitators prepared 600 relief packs that included rice, canned goods, instant noodles, dried fish and laundry soap. They also included vegetable seeds for the families. "While the families are trying to recover from the havoc brought by the typhoon, they can also start planting so that when relief goods start to diminish, they still have access to nutritious food in their home," said Renante Cano, BURDFI's president. "This effort is our little way of showing how sharing and caring touched our lives. I know it will touch the families in Calubian as well," he added.

The goods were delivered to families on November 23.

Calubian Mayor Doroteo Palconit provided the vehicle and manpower to transport the relief goods from Calbayog City to Calubian. He also mobilized some members of the Philippine National Police to provide security in order to ensure the smooth and orderly distribution of goods. "We are very grateful to Heifer and BURDFI and friends from Bicol for the very valuable assistance for our constituents affected by typhoon Haiyan. The damage is so massive; we need help from organizations like Heifer. You are the answer to our prayers," he said.

Many Heifer Philippines farmers from other regions are doing their part to help their fellow families in Leyte. 

The outpouring of charity between our project communities is a testament to the generous spirit of humankind. It is a great reminder to those of us who have much to be thankful for what we have, and to give what we can. As Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Original story submitted Jonathan Sandigio, program officer, Central Philippines in Bicol Region


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.