Typhoon Haiyan - one of the most powerful storms on record to have made landfall - struck the eastern coastal provinces of Leyte and Samar on Friday, November 8th. This disaster has profoundly affected more than 13 million people and over 3.4 million people are displaced.
GOAL has reached more than 42,000 people and has provided vital aid supplies on the islands of Leyte and Panay. The aid includes food, non-food and shelter items. GOAL is planning to provide almost 70,000 people on Panay and Leyte islands with food, emergency shelter kits, cash-for-work and cash transfer programs over the coming weeks.
James Kelly of GOAL shared his recent experience in the Philippines:
"As much as you try to inure yourself against emotional involvement, when you travel to a humanitarian disaster there is always at least one story of personal tragedy that manages to find a chink in the armor of “professionalism” that you had carefully wrapped around yourself before setting out.
And so it was when I met eighteen-year-old Lori-Jane and her family, in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and the havoc it wreaked across the Philippines. Their story touched me in a way for which I was unprepared.
Lori-Jane and her two sisters - Jessica (16) and Amber (9) – and their father live in Jaro, a rural village on the island of Leyte. The mother of the family is working far distant from Jaro, as the father is unwell and unable to provide for his family. She was at work when Haiyan struck.
Theirs was once, by Philippine standards, a very good house; made from concrete and nicely decorated, with multiple rooms. By the time I visited it had been all been reduced to rubble. The little family had sheltered from the storm behind one of the concrete walls, which miraculously had remained standing. The father and daughters escaped physically unscathed, although undoubtedly they will be emotionally scarred for a long time.
The girls had been celebrating their father’s birthday when the typhoon struck.
“When the winds and rain came,” said Lori-Jane, “Me and my sisters had just started singing happy birthday to my father. Within minutes, the walls and roof began to fall down around us, and we just huddled up against a wall, and prayed that we’d be safe.” The tears begin to flow as she points to what remains of their once lovely home, and the precious items that were destroyed.
The wall that gave protection is all that remains of the house’s infrastructure. The family now sleeps under a few blankets, spread over two wooden pallets. Their only shelter from the elements is from a “roof” consisting of a few sheets of corrugated tin attached to two bamboo poles.
As Amber delightedly examines the emergency rations that GOAL has provided, and the father busies himself in a never-ending attempt to clear the rubble and debris from their former home, Jessica shows me a tiny plaster figurine of a saint. The sisters credit this chipped and somewhat battered little icon with having protected their family. “It was our faith that helped us survive the storm,” says Jessica, “Now we are praying that we can rebuild our house and our lives.”
Lori-Jane is a high school graduate, and had planned to go to college. But now, it seems, what little money the family can earn will, for years to come, have to be invested in replacing what was lost to Typhoon Haiyan.
There are undoubtedly many Filipino people who suffered worse than Lori-Jane’s family, because of Typhoon Haiyan. There was something about this family that spoke to me far more than statistics we read about, these are real people. It also made me realize that had it not been for the fortunate accident of birthplace it could so easily have been my own family huddled against a wall during a devastating typhoon."