Evelyn Castillo is the Bayanihan Foundation’s Liaison in the Philippines. Evelyn is a certified public health nurse and has more than 30 years experience in project development and management, community organizing and public health services. She has worked with many international governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Philippine Canadian Human Resource Development Foundation. Evelyn was born and grew up in Giporlos, Samar, one of the devastated towns hit by Typhoon Haiyan. Evelyn and her family suffered tremendously from the effects of the super typhoon. Evelyn wrote this blog entry to share the latest news on the ground and the foundation’s efforts in recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Evelyn is also encouraging everyone to continue being engaged with the Philippines.
“On behalf of all the people of Giporlos and other nearby towns in Samar, I thank you for your support and good wishes during these trying times as we recover from the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. Thank you to all those who donated to the Bayanihan Foundation and have sent their financial support. My hometown Giporlos, Samar was one of the towns hit hard by the super typhoon. My family and the 13,000 residents of Giporlos are slowly recovering but many are still struggling from the devastation. Many families have planted rice and vegetables. Some farmers started planting root crops like cassava and yams in the outer barangay (villages). Others are even harvesting their vegetables now.
Besides farming, many residents of Giporlos, Samar rely on fishing for their livelihood. I am working in partnership with the Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA), an Internet-based group organized by Filipinos overseas and in the homeland who wished to assist in the development efforts in the Philippines. WFA members donated funds to buy fishing nets and we distributed them to fisher folk in Giporlos, Samar as a form of micro-loan enterprise.
Besides assistance from the WFA, many fisher folk have taken advantage of assistance from the Philippine government and other international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well. The International Red Cross distributed 10,000 Philippine pesos in cash assistance to some fisher folk but they also had limited means and only a few fisher folk families per barangay received the cash assistance. The Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) distributed plywood, epoxy, paint and motors for fishing boats to some fisher folk in the area. However, only a selected few have been given so far. The Health Futures Foundation, headed by Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan distributed 43 fiberglass boats to fisher folk communities and they are planning to also distribute fish nets free to another group of fisherfolk community. I have helped the Health Futures Foundation to find the poor fisher folk who really needed the assistance, especially those who missed out and did not take advantage of the relief efforts provided by the government and other NGOs.
For farmers, the Bayanihan Foundation distributed bolo (sharp knives) and itak (machetes) to selected farmers that farm in far away villages. The foundation also provided them with rice and essential food packs. The relief food packs was given to over 2,000 households in four barangay (villages). Besides the Bayanihan Foundation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) distributed metal roofing sheets to homeowners to help them rebuild their homes. However, the distribution was uneven among the barangay and it resulted in some chaos. Moreover since February 2014, the Philippine government stopped providing relief goods and only a smattering of international NGOs are still provided emergency food relief. Without assistance from the Bayanihan Foundation and other NGOs, I could not imagine how my family and other residents of Giporlos, Samar would have survived. Now more than ever we need you to continue to stay with the Philippines and be engaged.
So what’s next for the Bayanihan Foundation rehabilitation relief efforts? The foundation would like to provide small micro-loans of $15 dollars to fisher folk families so they could buy a low-cost scale, a styrofoam cooler and some plastic bags and start selling fish and make a living for themselves. Your $15 donation will give a gift of sustainable livelihood to one family in Giporlos, Samar. The Bayanihan Foundation would need these fisher folk to pay back these micro loans so the funds could be circulated and help another fisher folk family. Besides the micro-loans for fisher folk, the Bayanihan Foundation is also exploring building latrines for proper sanitation and long-term infrastructure and sustainability in Giporlos, Samar and other nearby towns. We still need your help. Please stay with the Philippines. Help us recover so we could stand again proudly on our two feet. Thank you.”