2013, YOLANDA TYPHOON, VISAYAS
THE REBUILDING OF A FALLEN REGION
The work of Great Love in Leyte after Yolanda
The cruel wrath of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8, 2013 toppled many houses, recorded a death toll of more than 6,000, and left thousands of lives in misery. There used to be only soundless nights and clueless mornings until the overflowing love of people here and abroad transformed their sorrows into rays of hope. It took the world to restore a fallen region.
The day of the catastrophe was coincidentally the time when Tzu Chi Foundation was established in the Philippines. It marked the birth of a Buddhist charity group in a predominantly Catholic country. But instead of a grand celebration, Tzu Chi Foundation and its volunteers, including those from the United States, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hongkong, Vietnam, and China, have worked tirelessly to personally deliver aid to the typhoon victims.
Following the wisdom of Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi volunteers carried out global donation drive in 46 countries, immediate cash-for-work program in the worst-hit city of Tacloban, medical missions, and large-scale goods and cash distribution to about 68,000 families from Tacloban, Ormoc, Palo, Tanauan, Tunga, and Dulag.
Adriano Querubin, a resident in Tanauan, is one of the grateful typhoon victims. Using the P12,000 cash assistance from Tzu Chi, he started a family livelihood which he called the “Tzu Chi rolling store”.
He bought P10,000 worth of supplies, fashioned old lumbers into a shed, and initially rented a bicycle. He used to bike for only three times a week but in June this year, Tzu Chi Foundation awarded him a new cycle rickshaw (pedicab) so he can earn on a regular basis.
“I named it as ‘Tzu Chi Rolling Store’ as a way to thank them. Without Tzu Chi’s help, it’s difficult to get back on our own feet,” he says.
New Tzu Chi volunteers
Although typhoon Yolanda brought widespread devastations, it also served as a way to awaken people’s innate goodness.
The sense of community and service had been inspired from among the local residents. This was seen when 13,500 local residents from Ormoc City and Tacloban City attended the first Filipino Tzu Chi Volunteers’ Seminar in January 2014. By July, 54 training volunteers have been awarded with a collared gray shirt and Tzu Chi caps, making them the first batch of Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers in Tacloban City.
Local Chinese entrepreneurs in Tacloban City have also been inspired to follow the path of Tzu Chi.
A priceless gift
To facilitate temporary rehabilitation of typhoon-hit schools, Tzu Chi Foundation initially donated 190 prefabricated classrooms in Tunga, Sta. Fe, Alang-alang, Jaro, Dulag, Ormoc City, and Tacloban City. This donation also benefited the disaster-stricken schools in Bohol and Zamboanga.
In July, 126 more prefabricated classrooms had been sent by Tzu Chi Foundation Taiwan for other schools in Leyte.
More help from Tzu Chi
In June, Tzu Chi Foundation delivered about 50,000 sacks of 20-kilo Taiwan rice to poor families in Ormoc City. In the following month, it delivered 50,000 sacks in Tacloban City, 16,000 sacks in Palo, and 13,000 sacks in Tanauan.
Another project also awaits completion in Ormoc City, Palo, and Tacloban City as the installation of 3,000 prefabricated shelters kicks off. At least 2,000 units will be installed in the 50-square-meter lot provision of Mayor Edward Codilla in Ormoc City.
Tzu Chi Foundation hopes that through these programs, it can inspire everyone’s goodness. It hopes to motivate the typhoon victims to move forward, transform their lives, and be part of the catalysts to purify the minds of the people, harmonize the society, and mitigate disasters.