Written by Joayra Gem Balagtas for Action Against Hunger
82-year old Pedro Sanchez has been living alone in the evacuation site in Perez, Kidapawan ever since the Mindanao earthquakes last year. All three of his children now have families of their own. They would sometimes send him financial help, but it is usually not enough to support Pedro since their families have needs as well.
More than a year ago, Pedro was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered a stroke, and he hasn’t been able to walk ever since. He can hardly hear as well, which he says could probably be because of his old age.
Pedro relies on his good neighbors for assistance in taking care of himself. Whenever he has money, he asks his neighbors to buy him supplies and food. They also volunteer to do his laundry and other chores that he has trouble doing by himself. However, there are days where his neighbors aren’t around to help him, so no matter how challenging, he does these tasks on his own.
Last September 21, our 𝗘𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 provided Pedro a wheelchair, to help him go through his daily activities with more ease. Teary-eyed, Pedro expressed his gratitude as he saw the wheelchair being pulled towards his tent.
Pedro is one of the 200 target beneficiaries to receive health and protection assistance as part of our 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲-𝘀𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 #𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗼𝗘𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗸𝗲 which is funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid – ECHO.
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Aldin Beta-A is more than a DRR Supervisor for our MOVE UP 3 Project, he is one of our Real-Life Heroes.
After spearheading the Resilient Livelihood Support turnover for 50 families in Marikina last September 18, he shares his experience as a humanitarian worker and working tirelessly to help others amidst the pandemic.
When did you start being involved in development work?
My initial employment was focused on ancestral domain management after I graduated back in 2000. After that, I was mostly involved in the agricultural field and was also part of an earthquake rehabilitation program. In 2006, I was deployed in Southern Luzon, in Aurora, for a community disaster risk reduction program. Thereafter, I was more involved on humanitarian responses during in 2013 until now.
What were your struggles as a humanitarian worker, especially now during the pandemic?
Well, the normal struggle is how to expedite the process given that time is limited, and especially now that transportation between areas have become challenging. The common way we communicate now is through non-face-to-face interactions which can be challenging when it comes to decision-making.
What motivates you to continue a career in humanitarian work?
As a humanitarian worker, it is common in our DNA to help others and doing no harm, so that motivates me to help others even if it needs more patience or innovative ways of getting things done.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My hope for the future is for us to continuously adapt. I see that we constantly change as a society, even though we experience many hazards or risks. I see that as we can adapt to these different disasters and emergencies, and cope as human beings.
Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 3) is an urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) project which aims to build resilience among urban poor communities in Mindanao. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 3 is implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger Philippines, Plan International Philippines, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.
“Mother, why are we different from other kids?” asks 6-year old John Rey to his mother, Janisa. John Rey and his two older brothers Christian and Gary Jr., have not been able to walk and run like other children because of a bone condition that started when each of them turned six years old.
Janisa looks at John Rey and finds it difficult to answer his question. Even the doctors that they consulted could not determine the reason why her sons’ bones in their lower bodies were shrinking. All the doctors could recommend was to conduct more medical examinations to determine the cause of the boys’ conditions and how to treat it.
The eldest, Gary Jr. who is now 13 years old, has trouble sitting down and usually spends days lying on the sleeping mat. The father, Gary Sr., earns just enough to get by their daily needs as an on-call carpenter. Janisa stays at home and takes care of the children. As much as they want to have their sons treated, they have limited financial capabilities to do so.
To make matters worse, their community in Balabag, Kidapawan was affected by the series of earthquakes that struck Mindanao during the last quarter of 2019. The disaster affected more than 300,000 people, almost half of them displaced, including Gary Sr. and Janisa’s family.
Despite their struggles, the Lopez family continues to move forward especially after our Earthquake Response Protection Team, together with the Integrated Provincial Health Office – IPHO and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), referred and assisted the Lopez brothers to Kidapawan City Public Hospital and other private hospitals in the area for more extensive check-ups and medical examinations. John Rey, Christian, and Gary Jr. each received wheelchairs courtesy of the IPHO, and the CSWD provided financial assistance for their family. Action Against Hunger continues to monitor the condition of the three children.
Prior to the referral, the Lopezes also received humanitarian support forms of multi-purpose cash transfer, hygiene and shelter kits. Inside their evacuation tent, Janisa watches her two youngest sons play, the eldest brother lies in his back beside them. The boys may not be able to use their legs like other children, but Janisa is hopeful that at least her sons will now be able to walk and run in their own special way with the help of their new wheelchairs.
Life-saving Humanitarian Assistance to People Affected by the Mindanao Earthquake is funded by the European Union, and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.
Written by Joayra Gem Balagtas