Stories from the Field: Hacel Mae Escobido

“I’m grateful that my family and I were safe.”

Burgos, Siargao — Before Super Typhoon Odette made landfall in Siargao, Hacel Mae Escobido and her family had already evacuated to the nearby school in their area. With the typhoon’s destructive strong winds, it was fortunate enough that the room where they stayed was the only room left undamaged by Typhoon Odette.

In photo: Hacelmae sits along the shore of Baybay, Burgos in Siargao. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

“I’m grateful that my family and I were safe,” she shares after recalling the ordeal they went through.

Hacel Mae was only 3 months old when she was taken in by her adoptive parents who are also distant relatives of her birth parents. Her adoptive father works as a carpenter, while her adoptive mother takes care of their home.

At 11 years old, Hacel Mae is already enrolled as a junior high school student. “I want to become a police officer to serve and protect my community,” she shares. When she is not in school, she normally spends her day helping at the rice farm.

In photo: Hacel Mae arrives at her home after spending the morning helping out at the rice farm. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

With the support of UNICEF and UN CERF, Hacel Mae’s family is one of the 221 households in Barangay Baybay that received emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene support last February 4, 2022.

The Super Typhoon WASH Emergency Response in CARAGA is implemented by Action Against Hunger with funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Written by Abdul-Alim Talusob & Benjie Montilla | Edited by Joyce Anne Sandajan  Read more

Stories from the Field: A Father’s Fight

TUBIGON, BOHOL — Dennis Frontera, a 45-year-old father of two teenagers, was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes almost a year ago. Before he was always full of energy, but that changed when his condition eventually led to renal failure. While he has since been receiving medical treatments, Dennis knew he was already due for a check-up.

His last consultation in December 2021 hadn’t been easy. Dennis had to be isolated for a couple of days at the hospital which unfortunately was at the same time that Typhoon Odette was wreaking havoc in his community at Barangay Bilang-bilangan. This experience made him hesitant to go back to the health facility.

When he found out about the medical mission in their barangay organized by Action Against Hunger, he was more than eager to get a consultation. This activity was part of the emergency health interventions of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of the REACH Project which is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

Medical Mission in Barangay Bilang-bilangan for people affected by Typhoon Odette. The activity is organized by Action Against Hunger through the EU-funded REACH Project. (Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger)

Dennis received further assistance through cash support which he can use to cover expenses for medicines and laboratory tests.   

With the support he receives from his family and other organizations like Action Against Hunger, Dennis is hopeful that he will recover sooner than later. For the sake of his wife and children, he is optimistic that he will return to the energetic man that he was before.  

Dennis is one of the 60,625 individuals that are expected to benefit from the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of REACH.

Typhoon-affected residents of Barangay Bilang-bilangan queue for a health consultation during the medical mission organized by Action Against Hunger through the EU-funded REACH Project. (Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger)

The Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of the REACH Project (Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao and the Visayas Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and is implemented by ACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesCARE PhilippinesCommunity Organizers MultiversityInitiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc.Plan International PhilippinesPhilippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP)Save the Children PhilippinesUnited Youth of the Philippines-Women and Oxfam Pilipinas.

Action Against Hunger staff conduct a hygiene promotion session during the Medical Mission in Barangay Bilang-bilangan last February 18, 2022 (Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger)


Written by Roussam Dilig | Edited by Joyce Sandajan, Dale Divinagracia

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REACH community volunteers gear up in intensifying COVID-19 vaccine awareness in Mindanao

We make sure that COVID-19 vaccines reach those who need them the most. Since last year, our COVID-19 Vaccination Response under the REACH Project has been supporting the local government and health units in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao so that more people in remote and disaster-affected communities are vaccinated and protected against the coronavirus. 

Door-to-door visits in Barangay Sapa, Bayang, Lanao del Sur. (Photo by Veronica Avila for Action Against Hunger)

We are going door-to-door to raise vaccine awareness, traveling by land or by water one community at a time with the support of the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid. Recently, we have mobilized Community Based Information Groups (CBIGs) to support the health workers of our partner rural health units. Together with the CBIGs, we will be intensifying our awareness campaign on COVID-19 vaccination while increasing the pre-registrations of A2 and A3 priority groups. 

30 community volunteers from the 34 barangays participated in the CBIG Orientation which was held at Barangay Casim Lumbaca-Ingud in the Municipality of Masiu, Lanao del Sur last January 13. Members of the Association of Barangay Chairpersons (ABC) in Masiu were also present. 

In photo: CBIG Orientation with MHO in Masiu. (Photo by Veronica Avila for Action Against Hunger)

CBIGs have very important roles. The CBIGs will be doing household visits and community dialogues to conduct vaccine and other health-related orientations. Their most crucial role is to provide overall assistance to their respective barangay health units and vaccination teams.  

As of January 2022, we have covered 45,376 people through REACH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Response activities. 

The COVID-19 Vaccination Response of REACH (Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and is implemented by ACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesCARE PhilippinesCommunity Organizers MultiversityInitiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc.Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), United Youth of the Philippines-Women and Oxfam Pilipinas.


Written by Veronica Avila | Edited by Joyce Sandajan

Real Life Heroes: Lea Añora

Last December, Lea Añora and the rest of our Tandag Field team were immediately deployed to Surigao City mere hours after Typhoon Odette made landfall—an experience that made her feel the proudest in being part of the most “hardworking humanitarian force of Action Against Hunger.”
On a regular day, Lea dedicates her time as a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Supervisor in our AECID-funded PROact Project while empowering women in her field to break free from stereotypes.
Get to know Lea and what makes her one of our Real Life Heroes.

What is your role in Action Against Hunger?

I am part of the PROAct Project that aims to improve disaster and climate change resilience in communities. As DRR Supervisor, I lead in facilitating skills and capacity training, spearheading community drills, provision of DRR Equipment and Early Warning Devices, facilitating, assisting our partner local government units in crafting and enhancing their DRR-CCA and Development plans, implementing Alternative Resilient livelihoods including the provision of technical support to partner Peoples Organization and conducting emergency response to disaster-affected areas, especially within the AOR of the base and neighboring provinces.

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?

It’ll be my 5th year in the organization this coming March 2022

What motivates you to become a humanitarian worker?

The trust and confidence of our partners, believing us and the organization that we WILL and CAN make significant changes in their lives and into their communities.

Photo by Dale Divinagracia for Action Against Hunger

Why are you making this sacrifice?

To see more faces of hope and joy, encouraging others to be an instrument of positive change despite the cruelty of the world.

In photo: Lea (third from the right) in one of the activities of ProACT.

What have been the challenges to your work?

Engaging in a diverse environment, with people having different beliefs, stand-points, and characters.

What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?

Having the experience of being genuinely appreciated by the people that we are helping fuels me every day to do more beyond what is expected from me to accomplish.

What are you most proud of?

Recently, during our Typhoon Odette Emergency Response, I was part of the team that was deployed to Surigao City immediately after the aftermath of the typhoon. Everyone in our team, including our drivers, worked so hard that a 4-hour sleep and eating a full day’s meal was a luxury. There were times when we were all drenched in rain and in sweat during the first wave of our assessment and relief distribution. These challenges never stopped us.

Everyone extended an extra mile of heartful labor to aid the immediate needs of the typhoon survivors. This experience made me the PROUDEST – to be part of the most hardworking humanitarian force of Action Against Hunger.

In photo: Lea hands over a hygiene kit during one of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response distributions in Surigao City. (Photo by Dale Divinagracia for Action Against Hunger)

As a DRR Supervisor, what climate change impact have you seen with your own eyes?

Taking to countless farmers and fisherfolks through the years, the common lament is that their yield has been dwindling.  This is due to the extreme weather conditions that we are all experiencing today; change of weather pattern, severe heavy rainfall, long periods of the dry season, and rising sea level.  These not only directly affect the livelihood of the farmers and fisherfolks, but also of the average customer because of rising prices for food.

 

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger

How do you help in combating climate change?

It is a challenge fighting against climate change. We can’t stop it.  But, we can mitigate its impact. Strengthened advocacies on DRR-CCA, people’s increased resiliency, and capacities, and strong support from our local government units, concerned national government agencies, and non-government agencies or organizations are one of the most important keys in executing projects, programs, and activities that directly address the adverse impact of climate change in our communities.

In photo: Lea helps load the sacks of rice for distribution to Typhoon Odette survivors in Surigao City (Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger)

How do you #BreaktheBias in your line of work or day-to-day activities?

In the humanitarian world, there is no room for discrimination. Each of us is given the opportunity and responsibility in helping the needs of the people, especially in times of crisis. I myself work without any bias towards my gender, for my attitude and passion define my work ethic which radiates to the people that I am working with.

How do you envision a gender-equal world?

A gender-equal world is a world that gives rights, independence, power, and responsibilities to both women and men without discrimination and segregation.

Photo courtesy of Lea Anora


Advancing Climate and Disaster Resilience Transformation in the Provinces of Agusan Del Sur, Surigao Del Sur, and Davao de Oro’ (ProACT) is a consortium project funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and implemented by Action Against Hunger & Fundacion CODESPA.

REACHING THE UNREACHED: Super Typhoon Odette WASH Emergency Response in CARAGA provides life-saving WASH support for affected communities in Siargao , Dinagat and Surigao City

On the 16th of December 2021, Typhoon Odette (internationally named Typhoon Rai) made its first landfall in the Siargao Islands of Surigao Del Norte in Caraga. Within hours of its impact, a total of 2,552,312 families across 38 provinces have been affected as the typhoon had incurred massive damages in infrastructure, houses, and livelihoods that have severe and long-term effects on the affected populations (Source: National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council as of 30 January 2022).

Burgos was one of the municipalities that bore the brunt of Typhoon Odette’s impact. Geographically facing the Pacific Ocean, many of its communities experienced storm surges and violent winds.

 

Through our Super Typhoon Odette WASH Emergency Response in CARAGA, we are hoping to reach 26,000 typhoon-affected people within the Municipalities of General Luna, Burgos, San Benito, and Del Carmen. With the support of UNICEF Philippines and UN CERF, our goal is to provide the children and their communities with safe water and sanitation services while promoting proper hygiene practices in times of emergency.

In photo: UNICEF Emergency WASH kits are unloaded for distribution in Barangay San Juan, San Benito in Siargao. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

We jumpstarted our water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH) activities starting in Barangay Baybay in the Municipality of Burgos and made our way to San Benito to reach Barangays Bongdo, Talisay, and San Juan. Within the first week of February, we have supported approximately 3,580 people (221 households in Burgos; 495 households in San Benito).

In photo: One of the recipients in Barangay Baybay, Burgos checks the contents of the UNICEF emergency WASH kit. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

Life-saving WASH assistance in the form of hygiene and/or water kits (jerry cans with Aquatabs/Hyposol) were provided to prioritized families with children under five years old, family members with vulnerable circumstances— pregnant/lactating women (PLWs); single-headed households, child-headed households; persons with disabilities (PWDs); senior citizens; and family members with comorbidities—or impoverished families who have not yet received emergency WASH support in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.

In photo: Action Against Hunger staff conducts a hygiene promotion session in Barangay San Juan, San Benito in Siargao. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

During the distributions, hygiene promotion sessions for the participating families were conducted. Our WASH staff demonstrated how to practice proper handwashing using soap and water. The barangay health workers (BHWs) also supported our team before and during the distributions.

One of the recipients, a mother from Brgy. Bongdo, expressed her gratitude upon seeing several soap items in the emergency kit. She stated that her community had little expectations that they would still be receiving WASH support. According to her, neighboring barangays already received similar aid weeks before, but her barangay was not included.

Our Super Typhoon WASH Emergency Response in CARAGA is made possible with funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Written by Queen Harley Musico & Abdul-Alim Talusob | Edited by Joyce Anne Sandajan 

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Supporting Typhoon Odette-affected families to meet food and other basic needs through cash assistance

Within a week after Typhoon Odette made its first landfall in the country, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has since been supporting our emergency response operations in Caraga. Now, we are taking a step further by continuing the support to help typhoon-affected families in recovering from the impacts of Odette.

Through the funding of the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), we are hoping to enable around 75,105 people to support their basic household needs through multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA).

This is part of our continued Typhoon Odette emergency response among the affected areas of Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Islands, and Bohol. Around 500 people from Barangay Day-asan in Surigao City had received cash assistance amounting to 5,000 pesos yesterday, February 16.

Aside from the cash assistance itself, heads of households also received an amount allotted for their transportation fare. This is the first among our series of MPCA activities in the coming weeks.

Photo by Meifen Mamangkas for Action Against Hunger

The “Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette” is an emergency response project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Agri-Aqua Development Coalition – Mindanao, and Relief International.


Written by Joyce Anne Sandajan Read more

Stories from the Field: Lenjie Concha

“I was frightened and shocked because that was the first time I experienced such a horrible event.”

10-year old Lenjie Concha lives with his grandmother, uncle, and aunt in Barangay Baybay, Burgos on the island of Siargao.

His grandmother, a teacher, owns the house where they are living in. His uncle works as a part-time carpenter and provides the main source of income for their household. Lenjie’s uncle also takes care of him while his father is away in Davao for work.

Boy sitting outside his house; house is a combination of concrete, wood and bamboo. The roof is partially damaged

In photo: Lenjie sits outside his home in Barangay Baybay, Burgos, Siargiao Island. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

On the day that Super Typhoon Odette hit Siargao, though Lenjie was inside their home, he witnessed firsthand how the strong winds destroyed the houses in their neighborhood. “I was frightened and shocked because that was the first time I experienced such a horrible event,” said Lenjie.

Fortunately, the house that they were staying in was not severely affected.

“After the typhoon, I felt safe, and I was grateful that my whole family is alive,” he added.

Lenjie’s favorite subject in school is Science and he aspires to become a teacher someday, like his grandmother. His hope for the future is to earn a college degree and land a job so that he can support his family and have a good life. On normal days, Lenjie spends his free time playing hide and seek and other games with his friends.

Action Against Hunger staff interviews Lenjie

In photo: Action Against Hunger staff interviews Lenjie outside his home. (Photo by Benjie Montilla for Action Against Hunger)

With the support of UNICEF and UN CERF, Lenjie’s family is one of the 221 households in Barangay Baybay that received emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene support last February 4, 2022.

Our Super Typhoon WASH Emergency Response in CARAGA is made possible with funding from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Written by Abdul-Alim Talusob & Benjie Montilla | Edited by Joyce Anne Sandajan  Read more