In December 2012, nearly 400 families involved in Heifer projects in Santa Josefa, Philippines, lost all or part of their homes, and many lost livestock to Typhoon Bopha. That storm destroyed more than $1 million worth of agricultural crops, which are vital for a poor farming community's survival.
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Sunday, February 16 marks 100 days since Haiyan devastated the central Philippines. If you are interested in our long-term recovery goals in the Philippines after the storm, please join a live roundtable discussion on the phone with Heifer's Vice President of Asia/South Pacific programs, Dr. Mahendra Lohani, at 7 p.m. CST, February 26. To participate, call toll free (855) 756-7520, ext. 23484# To leave questions in advance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heifer International through Heifer Philippines was quick to mobilize relief efforts. With the help of a local NGO, HEED, who gathered data and consulted with local families, the first-ever disaster response effort of Heifer Philippines was conducted. Partner families were delighted to receive the relief goods and were very thankful to Heifer for the assistance. Amidst the crisis they had been through, affected families were inspired to move forward knowing that caring people supported them and believed that they can rise above the challenges.
Families in Santa Josefa were reminded of Bopha’s wrath. With deep concern, they wanted to reach out to the people of Leyte in any way possible. The community donated used clothing to local church relief efforts. The president of a federation of Heifer families, Minda Sinagan, convened all the Heifer self-help group leaders and discussed how to extend help to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The group agreed to donate, and all 336 members of the Resource-Based and Integrated Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development (RISE) project answered the call.
On December 18, 2013, the SHG donations reached $1,000 even though they are still in the midst of their own recovery process.
“The amount may seem small but it came from needy families who also experienced the same wrath a year ago,” Minda said. “We know how it feels to lose everything. In our own modest way we can also help, together with the amount are our prayers and support to our fellow SHG members in Leyte. We believe that they can overcome this trial, like we are doing. We hope we would somehow bring inspiration to them to keep hoping.”
Minda said it did not matter that they didn’t know the people in Visayas. As Heifer farmers, they all share the same values.
“They are family. We belong to the same Heifer family, even if we have not met them, we will support them, in the same way other families across regions have helped us when we were in need. It is time to pay it forward.”
In addition to the $1,000 donation from Bopha survivors, Heifer Philippines also received donations from self-help groups and other Heifer farmers from northern and southern Luzon and southern Leyte. In all, Heifer farmers who are struggling themselves donated nearly $7,000 to those affected by Haiyan.
Story by Forcep De la Torre/ Program Officer/ Heifer Southern Philippines and Karla Narcise-Rodulfo / PME Manager / Heifer Philippines