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Story by Forcep Chris de la Torrre | Program Officer | Heifer Southern Philippines
Photos by Heifer Southern Philippines
In early December 2012, Agusan del Sur, Santa Josefa, Philippines was ravaged by Typhoon Bopha (known locally as Pablo). More than 2,000 homes were destroyed and almost $1.5 million worth of planted rice and corn, agricultural trees, banana plants, coconut trees, oil palm trees and livestock were decimated—all vital to the livelihoods of the farming community in this area.
Partner families of two Heifer-initiated projects in this area, the Family Based Sustainable Agriculture project, which ended June 2011, and the still-active Livelihood Development and Resource Based and Integrated Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development (RISE) project, suffered the most devastation in the community. All 366 partner families witnessed Bopha’s fury, as it tore down their homes and wiped out the sources of their livelihoods.
As an immediate response, Heifer International gave $50,000 for a relief operation to assist affected partner families. The Human Economic and Ecological Development Foundation Inc. (HEED), the local non-government organization implementing these projects, led the relief operation on December 15-16, 2012. Each household received one sack of rice, assorted canned goods, and a set of roofing materials to repair and rebuild their damaged houses. In addition, the HINIUSA Association, an organized federation of the RISE project's self-help groups (SHG), received $4,000 to replace damaged feed ingredients and $1,750 to rebuild a destroyed warehouse.
SHG members were involved in the entire process—from canvassing to purchasing and from packing to distribution—making the relief operation systematic and organized. HEED used the federation system, so every SHG was tasked with facilitating the distribution of goods to their respective groups.
The partner families are very grateful for the assistance they received from Heifer International. Through it all, they feared they would no longer celebrate Christmas; but with the support they received, they realized that there is always something to look forward to and be hopeful for and that, despite the loss and trials, people with generous hearts will always make life's burdens lighter.