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

Flora Cuaton smiles upon receiving the food packs and NFI kits from REACH - Typhoon Odette Emergency Response. On the left side of the photo are the debris from their damaged house. The green house behind her is owned by one of their children, where they now temporarily stay altogether.

Typhoon Odette Aftermath: “We have to start from scratch and right now, we have nothing.”

Flora Cuaton, 57, lost their home and livelihood in the distant island barangay of Mantatao, Calape in Bohol province due to Typhoon Odette (internationally named as Typhoon Rai).

“We don’t know how long it will take us to build back all that we lost because we have to start from scratch and right now, we have nothing,” says Flora. She and her husband used to own a small retail (locally called sari-sari) store in front of their house which was situated just by the island’s dock. Their small business was good then but has now been reduced to only broken items and debris.

Flora points to where their previous house and sari-sari store used to stand. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)

Before the typhoon, Flora lived with her husband, four grandchildren, and a 35-year old daughter who has a disability. They are now staying with the family of their other child while their house is yet to be repaired. This makes two families—a total of 13 people—living under one small and cramped partially damaged house.

Flora and the rest of her extended family now only rely on relief goods to get by while living in difficult conditions and having no current source of income.

The piles of wood, broken items and other debris are what is left from what was once Flora and her family's house

The piles of wood, broken items, and other debris remain from what was once Flora and her family’s house. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)

With the support of the European Union, her family is one of the 227 typhoon-affected households in Mantatao who received food packs including 50 kilograms of rice, and non-food items such as kitchenware and sleeping essentials through the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response.

Food packs and NFI kits are lined up along the entrance of the barangay; a REACH Banner hangs and behind it are broken houses.

Food packs with sacks of rice and NFI kits are lined up along the entrance of the barangay which is just by the dock of the island. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)

Barangay Mantatao is one of the islands in the Municipality of Calape. It takes a 25 to 30-minute boat ride from the town proper of Calape going to Mantatao island. Aside from being geographically isolated, many houses in Mantatao had been totally damaged by Typhoon Odette leaving many residents in great need of humanitarian support.

The Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of REACH 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.


Written by Joyce Sandajan

Affected families of Typhoon Odette react to emergency aid received from EU-funded REACH project

“As humanitarian workers, it felt good to see the people’s smiles when they received the sacks of rice, groceries and the kitchen and sleeping kits that were provided,” said Mary Amy Gagalac, the Head of Project of our Typhoon Odette (internationally named Typhoon Rai) Emergency Response in Bohol under the EU-funded REACH Project or the ‘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.’

Residents of Barangay Ugpong in Loboc, Bohol line up to refill their containers during one of the water trucking sessions provided by the REACH – Typhoon Odette Emergency Response implemented by Action Against Hunger.

We have been working to identify the needs of typhoon-affected communities in Bohol within days since Odette made landfall on December 16, 2021. Immediate life-saving aid through emergency kits and water trucking services have since been provided by REACH in the municipalities of Loboc, San Miguel, and Calape through the efforts of our teams on the ground.

A resident carries a refilled container while walking in a muddy path.

A resident carries a refilled container after the water trucking service in Loboc, Bohol. | Photo by Melinda Buensuceso for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)

“They expressed their gratitude to us and to ECHO. One of the recipients from Barangay Ugpong whose house was totally destroyed by the typhoon was in tears upon receiving the relief goods,” Amy shares.

Vince, one of our Project Assistants, hands over a food kit to one of the typhoon-affected households in Barangay Camias, Calape, Bohol.

 

The Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of REACH 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.


Written by Joyce Sandajan

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Providing clean water and life-saving emergency kits for Typhoon Odette affected families in Bohol through REACH

Photo by Amy Gagalac for Action Against Hunger

We’re jumpstarting the new year with back-to-back distributions of life-saving aid through the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

 

After a few days of queueing for sea cargos to transport our relief items, our REACH Typhoon Odette Emergency Response team was finally able to provide emergency kits for around 1,780 affected people in Barangays Camayaan and Ugpong in the Municipality of Loboc, Bohol on December 31 and January 2 respectively.

Photo by Amy Gagalac for Action Against Hunger

Families greatly impacted by Typhoon Odette (Internationally named Rai) received emergency kits consisting of food packs, hygiene kits, and other non-food items (NFIs) for kitchen and sleeping needs. Through the REACH Project, we are aiming to provide life-saving relief packs to 1,250 families in Bohol, benefitting an estimated 6,250 individuals affected by Typhoon Odette.

Aside from emergency kits, almost 1,800 residents from barangays Villaflor, Undol, Sawang, Gotozon, Valladolid, and Camayaan were able to receive potable water through REACH’s water trucking services so far.

To date, Action Against Hunger is awaiting the arrival of more hygiene and NFI kits to be distributed to our other target communities in the coming days.

 

Photo by Amy Gagalac for Action Against Hunger

 

The ‘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’ (REACH) Project’s Typhoon Odette (Rai) Emergency Response 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 Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Save the Children Philippines, United Youth of the Philippines-Women and Oxfam Pilipinas.

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Typhoon Odette Aftermath: Affected families in Surigao del Norte receive initial emergency life-saving aid through USAID support

With the support of the USAID, an estimated 7,259 people affected by Typhoon Odette (Internationally named Rai) in Surigao del Norte received immediate life-saving aid through our Typhoon Odette Emergency Response.

Action Against Hunger team loads relief items to boats going to the island barangays of Talisay, Surigao Del Norte

In photo: Action Against Hunger team loads relief items to boats going to the island barangays of Talisay, Surigao Del Norte. (Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger)

Since December 16, our teams have been going through different barangays in Surigao City (Sabang, Ipil, and the island barangay of Talisay), and the Municipality of San Francisco (Oslao) to identify and provide the basic needs of families greatly affected by the typhoon.

Three people carrying emergency kits (jerry cans & NFIs from Action Against Hunger and shelter tarpaulins from IOM) received during the distribution

Action Against Hunger distributed hygiene kits and non-food items for kitchen and sleeping essentials to typhoon-affected families in Sabang, Surigao City. Shelter tarpaulins were provided by the Immigration Organization for Migration (IOM). (Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger)

“A lot of people still need basic life-saving assistance which needs to be urgently addressed in order to prepare them for early recovery,” says Maricel Vina Menez, Action Against Hunger Philippines Project Officer. She is one of the team members who has been immediately on the ground 24 hours after Typhoon Odette made landfall in Surigao del Norte.

In photo: Action Against Hunger team loads relief items to boats going to the island barangays of Talisay, Surigao Del Norte. (Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger)

“We hope to reach 2,000 families before December ends,” she adds. Through the funding of the United States Agency for Internation Development (USAID), we were able to provide emergency food assistance, hygiene kits, and non-food items like kitchen utensils, sleeping mats & blankets.

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PRESS RELEASE: USAID Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Response to Devastating Super Typhoon Rai in the Philippines

For Immediate Release | Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Office of Press Relations ([email protected])

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing $200,000 in immediate assistance to support people affected by Super Typhoon Rai in the Philippines. The typhoon–known locally as Typhoon Odette–brought torrential rains, causing widespread flooding, landslides, and damage to homes. Many cities across the Philippines have lost power and some bridges and roads remain impassable. People are seeking shelter in evacuation centers and cannot safely return home yet.

With this assistance, USAID is partnering with Action Against Hunger to provide food, water, hygiene supplies, and other relief items in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island in the Caraga region to help people affected by the storm. USAID is also supporting the restoration of water supply services and sanitation facilities, as well as hygiene promotion activities to keep people safe and healthy.

In addition, USAID works year-round to help communities in the Philippines prepare for and be more resilient to natural disasters. Through existing programs, USAID partner, the UN World Food Program, is transporting relief supplies, including enough food provided by the Government of the Philippines to feed tens of thousands of families, and deploying mobile operations vehicles to support emergency telecommunications. USAID partner, the International Organization for Migration, is helping to manage evacuation shelters and provide critical relief supplies, including USAID heavy-duty plastic sheeting to meet critical shelter needs for 4,800 families.

USAID has disaster experts in the Philippines and in the region who are coordinating response efforts with the Government of the Philippines and humanitarian partners. Our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines who have been affected by this disaster.

For the latest updates on U.S. humanitarian assistance in the Philippines, visit: www.usaid.gov/humanitarian-assistance/philippines

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger


Read USAID’s official press release here.

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Assessing immediate needs of areas affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette PH)

Super Typhoon Odette (Internationally known as Typhoon Rai) has left the southeastern part of the Philippines devastated within hours of its initial landfall in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte last December 16, 2021.

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against HungerPhoto by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger

After making landfall in six different provinces, Typhoon Odette has affected a total of 99,501 families, with 328,847 people currently displaced (based on the December 18 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council). Many areas still have very limited access to basic needs. Communication and power lines are still down in many areas.

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger

Since December 17, our teams have been on the ground to conduct needs assessments in Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and another team traveling to Southern Leyte.

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger

We are continuously coordinating with government agencies and other organizations in identifying the urgent humanitarian needs of affected communities. As part of our initial emergency response, we are hoping to provide life-saving support for typhoon-affected families by early next week.

We need your help now so that we can provide urgent humanitarian assistance to families whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed.

Photo by Nino Kim Diez for Action Against Hunger


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