As humanitarian workers, our field teams have time and time again shown great dedication at ground level in reaching even the most isolated communities. One great example would be Abubakar “Bhaks” Balabagan who has always given his best efforts despite the risks and challenges.
What motivates you to become a humanitarian worker? My purpose, which is to help people in the community who are suffering during disasters, and saving lives as well.
Why are you making this sacrifice? It makes me fulfilled. I am happy to help vulnerable people in the community through Action Against Hunger and be able to have a role in providing free and direct access to beneficiaries – because it is one of the organization’s principles.
Bhaks teaches participants how to use the hyposol solution during the hygiene promotion session in Baras, Catanduanes. (Photo by Joyce Anne Sandajan for Action Against Hunger)
What have been the challenges to your work because of the COVID-19 pandemic? The pandemic is very challenging because the risk of contracting and/or transmitting the virus can happen anytime and anywhere if not careful. Because of this, we have to limit gathering beneficiaries in small areas for activities like hygiene promotion sessions.
What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges? My motivation comes from the people I serve. When I became a humanitarian worker, I became more conscious of the people’s daily struggles and have a deeper understanding on how different their situations are. For instance, many of them are striving to survive the economic downturn during this pandemic.
What are you most proud of? The thought that the work that I do, in some way or another, will have a ripple effect that will impact the lives of the people I serve.
Bhaks has been working with Action Against Hunger for more than 4 years. Now, he is currently part of our Typhoon Rolly (Goni) Emergency Response Team as one of the Project Assistants.
#StoriesfromtheField: “We were still doing okay financially even though the pandemic slowed our business down, but when Typhoon Rolly happened, I feel like we went back to zero,” said 58-year old Maria Tipo whose community in Barangay Guinsaanan of Baras, Catanduanes was greatly affected by #TyphoonRolly (Goni) last November 2020.
Maria and her husband used to live along the shore of Barangay Guinsaanan. Together, they managed to get by through their sari-sari store which was then frequented by tourist who were visiting Binurong Point, a popular tourist in the area. After losing both their home and their livelihood, they are now temporarily residing in a makeshift home they built from scratch in a small space beside her grandmother’s lot. With no source of income, they rely on relief packages for food and other basic needs.
“There are times when I have trouble sleeping at night because I worry, if the handouts stop what will happen to us?,” said Maria. She now has to work for the both of them since her husband had become partially paralyzed after suffering from stroke in 2019.
On January 27, Maria was one of the 60 beneficiaries from Barangay Guinsaanan who received 5,200 pesos as part of our multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA). This is one of the key programs under our 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗧𝘆𝗽𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗻 𝗔𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗔𝗹𝗯𝗮𝘆, which is co-implemented by CARE Philippines. The project is made possible through the funding of the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.
The goal of the MPCA is to enable typhoon-affected families like Maria’s to meet immediate food and basic humanitarian needs. Maria hopes for stability for her family in the coming days. Unfortunately, only a few days after the distribution, Maria’s husband passed away due to health reasons. Before his passing, Maria shared that her hopes for their family in the coming days was to build another house. “𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗲, 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗮 𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗳𝗲, 𝘀𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘀.”
(Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger)
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/AAH2.jpg638960Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-04-08 09:00:102021-05-12 06:19:40One of the 60 Beneficiaries Who Lost Their Home and Livelihood Due to #TyphoonRolly Received 5,200 pesos As Part of Our Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance
Sixty-seven-year-old Carlos Tesorero had one word in mind when asked how he felt when he saw what was left of his home – painful. Carlos, or “Tatay Carlos” as they called him, had a house along the shore of Barangay Guinsaanan in the Municipality of Baras, Catanduanes.
On the morning of November 2, 2020, a day after Typhoon Rolly made landfall, he, along with the other families living near the sea, returned and saw that the typhoon’s strong winds and heavy rains had completely destroyed their houses. “After the storm had passed, at around eight in the morning we went back to check our houses, and everything was gone… It was painful,” said Tatay Carlos. Hollow blocks, scraps of wood, metal, and scattered belongings were all that was left of their homes.
“After the storm had passed, at around eight in the morning we went back to check our houses and everything was gone… It was painful.”
In photo: Action Against Hunger staff visit the wreckage of houses in Barangay Guinsaanan where the houses of Carlos Tesorero and his neighbors once stood. It is now categorized as a ‘no-build zone’.
The residents of Barangay Guinsaanan were no strangers to such weather conditions, especially for those residing along the shore. In fact, in less than two weeks, the province had experienced the impacts of three typhoons – from Quinta to Rolly to Ulysses. Amongst the three, it was Super Typhoon Rolly that greatly affected their homes and livelihoods.
Tatay Carlos worked as a tour guide since 2015. He would accompany tourists to Binurong Point, one of the top tourist destinations in the province and about an hour’s hike from his barangay. Back then, he would get two visitors in a normal week, earning him 200 to 300 pesos. During summers, there would be more tourists and he would get twice the amount of visitors. This all changed when the lockdown was implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were okay before. But when the pandemic happened, it was hard because I had absolutely no income,” Tatay Carlos shares.
Tatay Carlos and his fellow tour guides looked for alternative sources of income. He went on to extract and sell dried coconut meat taro leaves, papayas, or other crops, earning just enough to get by. Unfortunately, most of the crops and coconut trees were damaged after the consecutive typhoons. He then started to collect dried wood and would sell them for firewood. He would earn enough to buy his food for the day. Tatay Carlos said he tried to apply for manual labor jobs like construction but was unsuccessful. “No one was accepting me because I was old, unlike the others,” he lamented. “I guess this is how it is when you get older, it’s more difficult to get a job.”
In photo: Tatay Carlos happily smiles with his cat named ‘Jasper’ who is his current companion inside his temporary home.
In photo: Tatay Carlos happily smiles with his pet inside his temporary home.
After the typhoons, the sea level had risen significantly, making the land where his home once stood into a no-build zone. Like the other families who lived there, Tatay Carlos now has to start from scratch. Fortunately, he was allowed to reside in a small building that was previously used as a barangay hall for the meantime.
With all that he has been through, what saddens Tatay Carlos is going through these ordeals alone. His wife, daughter, and grandchild visited a relative in Bulacan last year, but because of travel restrictions and financial constraints, they have not been able to return to Catanduanes since then. “If there was no pandemic, they would want to go back here,” he said. He tries to keep in contact with them regularly, but their conversations are often limited due to weak cellular phone reception.
Despite living alone, he continues to be in good spirits by regularly talking to his neighbors. Tatay Carlos also enjoys the company of a white kitten which he keeps as a pet. He spends his day going to the sea to catch fish for his own consumption since these are usually too small to sell. Some days, he checks if there are any crops to be harvested and sold. Tatay Carlos’ daily food is augmented by relief packs from various organizations. Mineral water is sold in the barangay, but since he has no income, he would get drinking water from the deep well.
In photo: Inside Tatay Carlos’ temporary home, his beddings on one side and the relief goods he received on the other.
Tatay Carlos works hard each day in order to provide for himself and perhaps earn extra income to save. “What we really need is money,” he says with a weak laugh. “We received noodles and canned goods as relief, so food is all set. We got some soap too, but those ran out quickly. I have to admit, sometimes I loan items from the sari-sari store items like cooking oil or laundry soap, and I pay them back once I manage to sell some of the firewood I collect,” he adds further.
He was excited when he found out that he was selected to be a beneficiary for Action Against Hunger’s multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA). On January 27, Tatay Carlos was one of the 60 beneficiaries from Barangay Guinsaanan who received cash assistance amounting to 5,200 pesos. The MPCA was conducted as part of Action Against Hunger’s Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities in Catanduanes and Albay, which is co-implemented by CARE Philippines. The project is made possible through the funding of the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA). The project is expected to reach a total of 14,500 people through MPCA alone. The goal of the program is to enable the most vulnerable households affected by Typhoon Rolly to meet immediate food and basic humanitarian needs.
“My number one dream is to have a house of our own again,”
With the assistance he received, Tatay Carlos remains hopeful and positive. “My number one dream is to have a house of my own again,” he shares. The makeshift house he is currently residing in is being sold at 30,000 pesos and he hopes to earn and save enough money so he can buy the lot someday. He also adds that one of his priorities as well as to have his daughter graduate as this was his dream for himself when he was younger. “Even though she now has a child of her own, I want my daughter to finish her studies,” he says.
In photo: Tatay Carlos at the Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) payout orientation at Barangay Guinsaanan, Baras. (Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger)
Despite losing both his home and livelihood, Tatay Carlos smiles as he shares the many ways he tries to make ends meet on a daily basis. Knowing he has to start from nothing pains him but says he is thankful that there are people who are willing to extend kindness through various forms. He may have been through a lot the past year, but his family and the support from his community keep him going.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/PH_B2AK_2021Jan25_Joyce-Sandajan_Guinsaanan_Carlos-Tesorero-5-scaled.jpg19202560Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-02-24 13:29:522021-10-13 03:19:04Story from the Field: Making Ends Meet
404 beneficiaries from Barangays Salvacion, Guinsaanan (Baras), and Cabcab (San Andres) received 5,200 pesos (107.19 USD) during the payout of our Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) last January 27 and 28, 2021. These beneficiaries came from the most vulnerable families which were severely affected by #TyphoonRolly (Goni) in Catanduanes.
Until now, thousands of affected families are barely back on their feet as the typhoons have impacted economic activities and living conditions. This is why one of the main identified needs is cash for food and other basic items.
Through our #TyphoonRollyEmergencyResponse, we are expecting to reach a total of 14,150 beneficiaries with MPCA in hopes of enabling them to meet their immediate food and basic humanitarian needs during these trying times.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAH1-2.jpg638960Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-02-22 09:00:442021-05-12 05:50:09404 Beneficiaries of Cash Assistance from #TyphoonRollyEmergencyResponse in Catanduanes
“The situation was really heavy for us, with COVID and then especially after the typhoons because we lost our house. We were worried about where to get money for our daily needs,” says Dominga Lora, whose family was one of the households in Barangay Danao, Baras, Catanduanes that were severely affected by #TyphoonRolly.
Her husband earns a living by fishing, while Dominga sells the fish, and sometimes gets laundry and cleaning jobs from neighbors. The consecutive typhoons damaged their home completely, but according to her, Typhoon Rolly made the biggest impact. Fortunately, with assistance from both the local government and financial support from their eldest child, they managed to rebuild their home little by little.
Not only that, the typhoon also affected the community’s water supply. For two weeks they had to get drinking water from the nearest creak which was a 30 minute to an hour’s walk from their area.
Aside from rebuilding their home, one of her concerns for the family is making sure their everyday supplies are sufficient, especially since she wants to make sure her family is safe from diseases like #COVID19.
“There are no COVID cases here in our area, but of course we take precaution because we never know who might be coming in and out of our barangay that may turn out to be sick. We wear masks and we are careful, especially now that there’s a new type of COVID,” she said. To address this, Dominga’s family was one of the 156 households in Danao who received hygiene kits last January 13, 2021 through our 𝗧𝘆𝗽𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗻 𝗥𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲.
“We’re grateful for the assistance that we received. Because of our situation, it’s hard to buy these items on our own so we will take care and use them for sure.” According to her, the kits are a big help for her four youngest children who regularly wash their hands.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAH3.jpg13612048Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-02-18 09:00:442021-03-19 10:30:45The Kits are a Big Help According to One of the 156 Household Who Received a Hygiene Kits Through our Typhoon Emergency Response
Ever since Typhoon Quinta, the residents of Barangay Codon of San Andres, Catanduanes had a hard time getting clean water. Their barangay’s water supply is mainly pumped through electricity which has not been available since November. As a result, some families would get water for drinking and cleaning from the community’s deep well.
In times like these, especially now that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, it is crucial to have access to clean and safe water for everyday use.
Last January 27, we distributed hygiene kits to 238 families in Codon. Included in these kits were materials for personal hygiene such as soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste, sanitary pads for women, and more importantly, hyposol solutions which they can use for immediate water treatment.
In addition to the kits, our Hygiene Promotion Assistant, Abubakar Balabagan, held a hygiene promotion session and also talked about COVID safety reminders.
(Photos by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger)
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAH22.jpg13612048Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-02-15 14:00:062021-05-12 06:01:02Distribution of Hygiene Kits to 238 families in Codon As Part of Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities
We are off to a pretty good start this year. Last week, we held our first distributions of hygiene and water kits to 506 families in selected barangays in Baras and San Miguel, Catanduanes.
This is part of our 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗧𝘆𝗽𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗻 𝗔𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗔𝗹𝗯𝗮𝘆 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲. We are hoping to reach a total of 900 families for our #TyphoonRolly Response in Catanduanes alone.
Our goal is to provide humanitarian support to 7,930 vulnerable families in Catanduanes and Albay which were affected by the typhoon. Our interventions will include emergency repairs and construction of water and sanitation facilities, more hygiene and water kits distributions, cash assistance, establishing community hand-washing stations, and hygiene promotions through community engagement.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.png00Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-01-18 15:45:092021-02-22 00:27:42Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities in Catanduanes and Albay Province
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