story by Analyn Lucas, MEAL Officer/CRS.
As if Typhoon Haiyan, considered one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded in the world, has not created enough damage in the province, Eastern Samar was hit again by another strong typhoon Hagupit the year after. According to the Philippines National Disaster Risk Management Council, Typhoon Hagupit killed 18 people and caused $114 million damage in the country.
“We were always wet including the things left to us. We can’t cook, there was no food. I was always bad-tempered because of our difficult situation.”
Jose Esplago, 40 and a widower, is one of the residents of Gayam—an upstream community in Taft, Eastern Samar with around 74 households. His only source of livelihood was producing copra for a coconut farmer who pays him around 500 pesos every three months. Jose and his nine year old son used to live in a nipa hut. However, when Typhoon Hagupit struck last December 2014 their home was completely washed away.
“For almost a year, my son and I lived under a tarpaulin even if it was raining and there were typhoons.” Jose said that he got depressed of their situation and resorted to drinking almost every day leaving his young son to fend for himself.
All these changed when they learned about the recovery shelter project of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Diocese of Borongan. With funding from international donor and private sources, CRS and the Diocese of Borongan built recovery shelters for 432 beneficiaries and provided shelter strengthening kits to 1,212 households.
Jose and his son were very thankful to be one of the beneficiaries of the recovery shelters.
“When the materials came, I got to my feet and built my house. I stopped drinking too and just concentrated on working and planting root crops and vegetables for me and my son,” Jose said.
Because of the CRS shelter project, Jose and the other people in Gayam do not feel “forsaken” anymore. They said that the shelter project is by far the most concrete assistance the community has been blessed with.