Five hundred thirty-four families in Palo, Leyte, were the beneficiaries of a four-day relief distribution program organized by Tzu Chi Foundation with the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in efforts to extend assistance to communities severely affected by the pandemic.
Each family received 1 sack of 20 kg Taiwan rice, 2 kg Bihon (rice noodles), 1 container of multigrain drink, ½ gallon vinegar, ½ gallon soy sauce, 1 liter cooking oil, 1 pc detergent, 2 pcs bath soap, 2 kilos brown sugar, and 1 kg salt. Eggplant seedlings and okra seeds were also given to each beneficiary to promote food sustainability as well as vegetarianism.
On August 17, some 20 Tzu Chi Palo volunteers braved narrow, muddy roads to reach Payatas, a dumpsite community in San Jose, Palo, where 67 families received the much-appreciated aid.
The next three days, beneficiaries visited the Tzu Chi Great Love Livelihood Center to claim their rice and grocery items. Recipients came at appointed times and wore facemasks to comply with minimum health and safety protocols. On August 18, 87 families from San Jose, Palo, received aid; on August 19, 161 families from the neighboring Kapuso GMA Villagers came for their goods; and on August 20, 229 families from Tzu Chi Palo Great Love Village were on hand to claim their rice and groceries.
With quarantine measures limiting opportunities to work, and local government offering paltry aid, Palo’s locals showed their gratitude to Tzu Chi in various ways. Many wrote thank-you notes on pieces of paper; a lady named Vilma brought kakanin (rice cakes) for the volunteers.
“People, especially PWD (Persons with Disability) who are affected by the lockdowns, are so thankful that an organization like Tzu Chi exists and continues to offer generous help,” says Tzu Chi Palo volunteer Randy Militante. “They really appreciate it and they were so disciplined when they claimed the aid.”
Leyte took a direct hit when Category 5 Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) slammed into the province in November 2013, leaving massive destruction to property and scores dead in its wake. Tzu Chi Foundation brought hope and renewed life to Leyteños with its cash-for-work cleanup drives, cash assistance programs, medical missions, free hot meals, and the reconstruction and repair of homes, schools, churches, and other establishments.