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Stories from the Field: A Mother’s Fortitude

Sitting on a bamboo bed inside a makeshift cob hut, five-year-old Zia bugs her lola (grandmother) about her vitamins, telling her that it is time for her to take them. Emma, 63 years old, tells her to wait for a while as she settles to answer questions and share stories about her life and what she experienced when Super Typhoon Odette hit Bohol.

Emma and Zia sit on their bamboo bed inside their makeshift shelter made of leftover materials from their house that was severely damaged by Typhoon Odette.

Emma lives in a small house near a river in Napo, Inabanga, Bohol. The neighborhood remains isolated from the rest of the town’s mainland since it is located on the other side of the riverbanks.

Emma has been Zia’s guardian since birth. She has acted as the mother since her daughter, Zia’s biological mother is working in another province as a house helper and comes home very rarely.

“Ay sukad pa pag gawas, ma’am. Ako na jud nag bantay ug nagpa dako kay nanarbaho pod lage ang ijang inahan sa Cebu. Magpada pod usahay ahong anak, pero gamay ra pod lage kay 5,000 ra man ijang sweldo,” shares Emma.


“I am the one who has been looking after her since she was born because her mother has to work in Cebu. My daughter [Zia’s mother] also sends money but not that much because she only earns 5,000 pesos per month.”


Meanwhile, Emma vividly remembers the terrors she and Zia experienced during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Odette one early night in December 2021.

“Kusog (ang hangin). Didto mi sa kapelya nanagan oy. Alas syete naman mi namlhin didto, kusog na kaajo ang hangin. Pirte na jud namong likay-likay para di mi maigu sa lubi,” Emma eagerly recalls.


“The wind was very strong. We ran to the chapel. We went there at seven in the evening, the wind was already aggressive at that time. We tried our best to avoid the swaying coconut trees on our way to the chapel,”


Seeking a safer shelter amidst the violent winds and heavy rains, left their small house without anything but Zia. They stayed in the chapel along with the other villagers who were also seeking a more elevated place to avoid the rising water from the river. Two days later, the neighborhood was still flooded after the river overflowed during the typhoon. Emma was able to go back to their place after three days but she went home to almost nothing. Her house was destroyed and everything in and around it was covered with mud.

A few meters from their makeshift house, Emma and Zia pose sit by their soon-to-rise new home which was made possible through the support of the ECHO and Action Against Hunger

Today, no signs of muddy surroundings and damaged infrastructure exist anymore. The only thing that serves as a reminder of the typhoon is the makeshift cob house where they are staying temporarily.

About five meters from the makeshift home stood a newly built house frame with galvanized iron sheets roofing, four big wooden pillars, and coconut lumbers ready for the walling. All of the resources used for building the structure were funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) as part of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project. The material and financial donations, along with the emotional and mental support, made it possible for Emma to start rebuilding their home and their life.

With teary eyes and a shaky voice, Emma expressed her gratitude to the people behind ECHO through the Action Against Hunger team. Right after she saw the damages left by the typhoon, she thought it was already impossible for her to build back their home due to financial incapacity. But through the ECHO Odette Response, she only had to contribute minimally because most of the things she needed to start again were already provided.

“Perteng lipaja namo ma’am oy. Sa katong diha na ang mga hinabang [sa Action Against Hunger  at ECHO], labi na katong para sa shelter, mga kahoy, mga sin. Bisan pa og kato ra, maka barog naman jud mi adto, bahala’g di ka-igu, majo na raman naay ma puno-punoan.” she shares.


“We were very happy when the aid [from Action Against Hunger and ECHO] arrived, especially those for shelter, the wood, the galvanized iron sheets. Even with only those materials, we can already put up our house back. It is already a great starting point.”


Aside from the shelter assistance, Emma received other kinds of assistance from ECHO such as hygiene kits. Six months later, Emma has eventually returned to her almost-normal life producing fiber materials out of raffia palm leaves while taking care of her granddaughter. Emma earns less than 500 pesos a week from cleaning, drying, and scraping raffia fibers and selling them to local native product manufacturers.

Emma prepares raffia fibers to supply for local handicraft producers

While her new home is not fully done yet, Emma and Zia continue to take shelter in the makeshift cob and hope they can finally move into the new house in a few weeks.

Emma’s motherhood has extended to the next generation by taking the role of a mother and guardian to her granddaughter. Being a widow and a senior citizen did not stop her from taking responsibility for her 5-year-old granddaughter not only during disasters but during Zia’s entire life.

Emma gets drinking water for Zia in their makeshift dirty kitchen after her granddaughter took her daily dose of vitamins. 

As Emma finishes sharing her story and answering questions, she gets up to get the vitamins Zia had been bugging about earlier. She lets Zia take it and gives her water to drink after. Zia leaves with a phone her mother lent Emma for communication purposes and starts playing a mobile game.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.


 Written by Donna Ocmeja | Photos by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger

Odette Aftermath Snapshot: The Island’s Source of Life

The island of Ubay can be reached through a 30-minute fuel-powered boat ride from the port of Tubigon. Residents pay 50 pesos for a two-way ride from and to the island.

Ubay, a small island in the town of Tubigon in Bohol, was one of the most devastated communities after the onslaught of Supertyphoon Odette (internationally known as Typhoon Rai). Most of the houses were totally damaged by the typhoon that hit the province in December 2021.

The residents of Ubay are families who depend on the sea to survive. Most of the people on the island are fisherfolks. Unfortunately, it was also the sea that destroyed the island when Typhoon Odette rampaged the province of Bohol. Aside from losing their homes and livelihoods, the disaster also took the lives of two vulnerable members of the community—a newborn baby and an elderly woman.

Through the funding of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai implemented by Action Against Hunger in Bohol provided aid and support in the aftermath of the calamity. Since the residents’ livelihoods were most impacted, the ECHO-funded Typhoon Odette Emergency Response provided interventions to help the fishing community rebuild their main source of living.

Jose Cabarce, a fisherfolk, shows his new fish net he bought using the cash assistance. His wife, Evelyn Cabarce, is inside their home which is right behind Jose.

Reynaldo Zaide lost his newborn daughter during the typhoon. The name of the baby who died is seen written on the exterior wall of the family’s house. Reynaldo lives with his wife, Lavinia, and their two children: a 15-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl. He received cash assistance for livelihood as well which he used to buy a new fishing net.

Father and son Lorenzo and Eric Beltran take turns in using the new fishing net and motor machine for their boat which they bought through the cash assistance provided by the project. They live together in a small house built just a few inches from the seawater.

Eric and Lorenzo with the rest of the Beltran family members.

Estrellita shows her husband, Binerando, getting ready for another fishing trip. Binerando is preparing the boat they managed to acquire through the livelihood cash assistance.

Grandparents Reinaldo and Feliza Manas, with their granddaughter, show the fishing net they just bought. Reinaldo is a fisherman who works to provide food for her sick wife and their granddaughter who lives with them. Surrounding them are some of the remaining debris of their damaged home.

Fernando, 64, and Analiza, 33, are a couple with two kids in grade school. With Analiza having Polio, Fernando is the primary caregiver and provider of the family. Thanks to the cash assistance, the family was able to buy new fishing gear that helped them restart their fishing livelihood after Typhoon Odette.

The ECHO-funded Typhoon Odette Response provided cash assistance which residents used to rebuild their livelihoods. While some residents used the assistance to purchase fishing gears and other equipment, others used it as a start-up capital for a sari-sari or small retail store.

Eusevio Macaraya shows his small sari-sari store inside a makeshift shelter made of materials recycled from the remains of typhoon Odette. Eusevio proudly shares how his small store is now the new place for the neighborhood, especially fishermen, to gather for coffee early at dawn or late at dusk. The new ‘Ubay Island Cafe’ owner is a 64-year-old widower who lives alone. His four children have left the island a few years ago for marriage.

Aside from the cash assistance for livelihood, the Action Against Hunger team also provided another set of cash assistance to some members of the community for food supplies. They also provided Water, Sanitation and Hygiene kits.

Estrellita Anavieza, 58, is a widow who currently lives on the island with her teenage daughter. She also received livelihood cash assistance for her store’s capital.

Aside from the cash assistance for livelihood, the Typhoon Odette Response through Action Against Hunger also provided another set of cash assistance for food supplies. During the initial stages of the intervention WASH or water, sanitation, & hygiene kits were also given to the affected residents.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines. Read more

Stories from the Field: Keeping faith in helping others despite Typhoon Odette’s impact

“In health, we need to be on duty, even if we ourselves are affected. Be strong. We go to the evacuation centers, even though we do not know what has happened to our homes.”Dr. Ivy Padernal, Municipal Health Officer | Municipality of Mabini
Patients from devastated health stations from Mabini swarm the San Roque Health center— the main health center in the municipality. After being destroyed by Typhoon Odette, it is crucial to repair and add more health stations to serve the community.
Prior to the disaster, Dr. Ivy visits the health center once a week to conduct check-ups. The center caters to more than ten barangays. After Typhoon Odette, residents had to do their health consultations at the rural health office which was a long commute for many.
With the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, our Typhoon Odette Response in Bohol was able to rehabilitate health facilities such as the San Roque Health Center.

The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Hope in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette

41-year-old Lorelei still breaks down into tears every time she recalls the day Typhoon Odette made landfall. She vividly remembers the fear that she and her family experienced. Not to mention, they had to face the fact that the typhoon had left their home damaged and their livelihood affected.
 

With the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, our Typhoon Odette Response in Bohol was able to provide short-term livelihood recovery programs to families like Lorelei’s.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Sailing Through Rough Seas

The island of Ubay in Tubigon, Bohol is one of the communities hardest hit by Supertyphoon Odette (internationally named Rai)—the strongest typhoon that the province had ever experienced according to their current residents.

To reach the island, one must take a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland of Tubigon. If residents or travelers do not have their own boat, it costs fifty pesos for a one-way trip. Being a hard-to-reach community and with most of its houses totally damaged by the typhoon—Ubay was identified as one of the beneficiary communities of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

Marichu and her son ride on their boat on the way to the island from the mainland of the town of Tubigon.

Marichu Reyes and her family are residents of the island. The day-to-day life of Marichu and her family primarily revolves around the island. Her husband is a full-time fisherman who works day and night to catch fish and other seafood for selling and consumption. The sea is the family’s means of survival and source of income. Unfortunately, with climate change making natural disasters even worse in recent years, the family’s source of living is affected.

Marichu prepares for docking and throws a rope toward a man who is waiting for the boat to arrive on the Ubay island.

“Sa dihang naagi-an mi og linog, na usab ang panahon. Dayon, nag bagyong Yolanda, mura bag hinay na kaayo ang kuha sa isda gani. Dayon gi usban ni Odette, mao tong diha mi murag na lusbo gani mi. Mura mag ibutang nato og mura ta’g nawad-an ta og panginabuhian ba, sakit kaayo,” Marichu shared during an interview.


“When the 2013 earthquake hit us, the weather seemed to have changed. Then when typhoon Yolanda hit a few months later, our fishermen’s daily catch gradually decreased. Typhoon Odette came and that is when everything got even worse. It seemed like we lost everything in life, and it was too painful for us,” 


Despite the day-to-day financial challenges they face, Marichu and her husband continue to keep their promise of not giving up. Currently, their eldest child is in a local college studying Education, while their second child has just started college taking up Maritime courses.

The family owns a boat that they use not only for fishing but also for taking passengers to and from the island; this is a secondary source of income for them. Meanwhile, Marichu works as a Barangay Health Worker on the island with a monthly honorarium of 500 pesos.

“Ang akong bana, ang buntag himoon og gabie, ang gabie himoon og buntag niya, para lang maka support sa among mga anak. Kay among mga anak ma’am bisag ingani mi ang among sitwasyon, maka kaon sa usa ka adlaw og ka tulo, pursigi gani sila sa ilang pag skwela. Unya kato akong ulitawo mo tabang sad sa iyang papa og tahi, managat…. Ang kanang mahibiln sa among balay kanag gamay nako ari, kamao naman sad na moluto ka gi tun-an lage nako, 9 years old, grade 4,” Marichu proudly narrated.


“As a fisherman, my husband’s morning is the night, and the night is his morning. He does that just to support our children because even if we are in this situation – merely having three meals per day – we have hard-working children who are eager to go to school.

For instance, my second child helps his father at work – he sews our fish net, he goes fishing… Our youngest child is usually the one left at home, and he can already cook food. He is nine years old and in the fourth grade,”


Marichu admitted that her family of five continues to experience the struggle to achieve a more stable life, especially in recent years because income through fishing has been unsteady and two of the children have started tertiary education. On the brighter side, this struggle is also the thing that motivates them to do better and bigger. Unfortunately, their struggle intensified in December 2021 after Super Typhoon Odette washed out their home and destroyed their fishing equipment.

Marichu sits in the doorway of their makeshift house while narrating the horrors her family and the rest of the island community experienced during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette

The town of Tubigon has six islands surrounding it. Due to the lack of appropriate sea transport facilities and time constraints, the local government officials were not able to evacuate all of the Ubay Island residents before the strong winds and rains arrived. Fifteen families remained on the island during the typhoon including Marichu’s.

Marichu got emotional as she recalled the unfortunate events that happened on the island during the typhoon. She narrated how the community witnessed first-hand the rapid destruction of the islanders’ primary assets – the households and the livelihood. Marichu also shared how the entire community of Ubay Island mourned for the two most vulnerable members of the community who lost their lives during the typhoon – a newborn baby and an old woman.

“Sakit kaayo paminawon ba, nga ang among bay ug panginabuhian hurot tanan. Ang nahibilin na lang namo ang among pamilya, maong nagpasalamat sad ko sa GInoo ba nga wa mi hutdan sa among mga anak. Gibilin mi, ang gikuha niya ang panginabuhian ug among balay. Pero salamt jud kaayp sa Ginoo sad kay kami buo pa mi. Hinuon ang panginabuhian ug ang bay, sa inanay mabalik man. Pero sakit lang sad paminawon ba,” Marichu said.


“It is painful to think that our home and livelihood got destroyed [due to the typhoon]. What was left of us is our family. I am thankful to God that we did not lose anyone from the family. Our house and livelihood got taken away, but thankfully our family is still complete. We can bring back our house and livelihood slowly anyway. But it was still painful [to lose our house and livelihood,”


The arrival of the Action Against Hunger team to the island a few months after the typhoon was considered a blessing to the island. Marichu, along with the other residents of the island of Ubay, received post-calamity aid from the ECHO-funded project. Cash assistance for livelihood and food is the primary aid intervention for the residents of the island. They also received water, sanitation and hygiene kits.

Standing in front of their temporary house, Marichu shows off the new fish net they bought using the ECHO livelihood assistance

All of the families on the island benefited from various aid programs coordinated by the Action Against Hunger team. More than 20 families were able to buy new fishing equipment that helped in their livelihood recovery, and more than 40 families were able to buy food supplies for daily consumption.

Standing in front of their temporary house, Marichu shows off the new fish net they bought using the livelihood assistance from the 

The residents of Ubay Island mention their gratitude for all the help they received in Typhoon Odette’s aftermath. Marichu and her husband thought it would take them a long time to recover, but thanks to donations from charity organizations, especially Action Against Hunger, according to them it only took a few months to go back to fishing. It’s a long way to go, but they’re slowly getting back on their feet.

“Ipagawas lang nako no, daghan jud kaayo ko og pasalamat ninyo, sa Action Against Hunger, sa ECHO. Dako kaayo og nakatabang sa among panginabuhian. Nga ang among pukot nga gamay na pun-an pa gyud tungod sa hibanag Action Against Hunger. Thank you kaayo. Og sa akoa lang nga bahin ma’am, kung nagkinahanglan mo nako, willing ko, magpa gamit ko para makatabang pod,” Marichu’s ending statement during the interview.


“I just want to express a huge thank you to Action Against Hunger and ECHO. They helped us a lot in the revival of our livelihood. For instance, we now have a bigger fish net because of the cash assistance we received. Thank you very much. And on my part, if ever the organization would need anything from me, I am willing to help and be a volunteer, so I can also help in return,”


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Woman of the House

Grace Sabellano, 55 years old, is one of the beneficiaries of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). As an owner of a house that was one of the totally damaged homes in the village of Villa Aurora in Dagohoy, Bohol, Grace received shelter assistance from the project through the efforts of Action Against Hunger.

Grace heads a family that resides in a small house made of light materials. The house sits on top of a mountain, isolated from the rest of the village. There is no other way to reach their home from the barangay proper but through a 15-minute hike in the mountains.

In photo: Action Against Hunger team hikes the trail leading to Grace’s house in the mountains of Villa Aurora, Dagohoy. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

In photo: The house of Grace and her family as seen from a nearby hill that is part of the mountainous trail. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

In photo: The team passes by a manmade well a few meters below Grace’s residence. The well was made especially for the only two houses located in the area; this includes Grace’s family. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

Grace is a single mother with three children. Today, two of her children live with her in the mountainous barangay of Villa Aurora. Five people live in the house built by Grace herself: her son and daughter, her father and his partner, and herself.

In photo: Grace expresses pride and happiness as she narrates how she managed to build up their house on her own, with little assistance from her father. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

When Typhoon Rai (locally known as Supertyphoon Odette) hit their home, Grace’s father was the only person left since she was out of town at that time. Thanks to the village officials, her father got rescued just in time before the main parts of the house got washed away by strong winds and heavy rains. Grace went home a day after and came home to a devastating sight – the house that she built herself had been destroyed.

In photo: Grace with her father and son inside the family house. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

With Grace doing most of the work, the reconstruction of the house is still ongoing eight months after Typhoon Odette’s ravage. Grace uses the cash assistance from the ECHO Typhoon Odette Emergency Response to buy materials to rebuild their home. She also received water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) kits from Action Against Hunger.

Grace had been separated from her husband more than five years ago and has since then raised the family on her own. As the main provider of the family, Grace’s primary source of income is farming. She plants vegetables and root crops around the house. She also raises a few native chickens for consumption.

In photo: Grace shows her vegetable garden located just outside the house she built. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

“Og di ka mananom [diri sa bukid], wa jud kay kaonon. Dako to kaayo og tabang namo [harvest], until now…Sauna, wala man gyud mi ga anad anang kuan kay naa mi sa syudad gapuyo sa wa pa mi dari. Ang kanang pagpananom kung kintahay di ka kabalao, pero akong gi tuohan, walay di nato mahibaw-an kung atong buhaton. Positibo lang dapat, kay ingana ang kinabhi,” Grace shared during an interview.


“If you don’t plant food here in the mountains, you will not have anything to eat. Our harvests are helping us a lot until now… We did not have any experience in farming because we grew up in the city. But I believe that nothing is impossible to learn if we just do it; the same goes for farming. We should be positive, that’s how life is,” 


 

In photo: Action Against Hunger staff with Grace and her son having a conversation outside the house on top of the mountain. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

Unfortunately, aside from the damages to the house, typhoon Odette also destroyed Grace’s garden and small farm, her family’s main source of living. With her perseverance and patience, Grace’s day-to-day life of farming and taking care of the family continues. On top of this is the ongoing repair of her house which she has been spending time on.

In photos: Grace harvests corncobs from her small farm located a few steps from her house. She planted the corn seeds herself after slightly recovering from typhoon Odette. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

As a single mother who lives in a small, simple house located on a mountain isolated from the rest of the village, Grace stepped up her role at home and is now the head of the household and the family’s main provider.

“Naningkamot ko nga matuto og tarong ang akong anak bisan way amahan. Naningkamot ko kay lisod pod kaayo og imong pasagdan,” Grace highlighted in the last part of the interview.


“I work hard so that my children will grow to be good people even if they don’t have a father. I work hard because I cannot just take them for granted,”


In photo: Action Against Hunger staff with Grace and her son having a conversation outside the house on top of the mountain. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Real Life Heroes: Leader in the Making

The youth is the hope of the future, they say. In order to address the many issues impacting our fight against hunger, we must not only help children to grow up strong, but also engage and capacitate them to be the leaders they aspire to be.

We approached this by providing interventions focused on protection in the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project through the support of the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

23-year-old Mario Ferrano Jr. is the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairperson of Barangay Mandaug in the town of Calape, Bohol. As the village’s youth leader, Mario represented his community in the 4-day Child Protection Training of the ECHO-funded Typhoon Odette Emergency Response.

The workshops, which include topics on Child-Friendly Space and Mental Health and Psychological Support, were conducted by Action Against Hunger. Mario caught the attention of the project staff and training organizers because of his sense of initiative and participation.

According to the Municipal Social Welfare Officer of the Local Government of Guindulman in Bohol, local child abuse cases increased significantly during the pandemic but doubled during the aftermath of Supertyphoon Odette (internationally known as Typhoon Rai)

Action Against Hunger initiated various programs to promote and implement protection for children in the typhoon-devastated areas of Bohol. The programs include a series of training for social workers, barangay officials, and youth leaders and the building of child friendly spaces in coordination with local government units (LGU) and barangay councils. One of the participating LGUs is the town of Calape.

Action Against Hunger conducts a four-day training on Child Protection  for the community workers of selected barangays of Bohol

The training was part of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Responses protection activities, such as: provision of psychosocial support services including access to child and youth-friendly spaces, recreational activities, and psychological first aid; prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV); reactivate and strengthen community-based protection mechanisms to assess and monitor protection concerns; and implement community awareness and feedbacking activities.

“Relevant kaayo ni nga nga project sa Action Against Hunger and ECHO, kaning Child Friendly Space. Kay usa man gud sa di mahatagan og pag-tagad during calamities, dili lang sa bagyong Odette, pag linog pod pag niagi, nabantayan pod nako nga usa jud sa mawala sa mapa, during the pandemic, is ang bata. Looy kaayo ang mga bata kay pasagdaan ra kay ang ginikanan naa didto nag pila for relief good, nangita og kwarta. Then ang mga bata napasagdaan na bitaw nga ga bulingit na, which is dili healthy sa ilang pang lawas,” Mario shared.


“This project by Action Against Hunger and ECHO, the Child Friendly Space, is extremely relevant. One of the things that are taken for granted during calamities is the children, not only during typhoon Odette, but also during the 2013 earthquake. I also noticed that children were overlooked during the pandemic. I feel sorry for the children when they get ignored because their parents are busy lining up for relief goods or looking for money. The children are taken for granted to the point that they would look dirty, which is bad for their health.”


The team also found out that even before the project’s intervention, Mario was already an active community leader in their barangay initiating programs for the benefit of the youth.

Mario volunteers as a facilitator during the Child-Friendly Space training

One of the things Mario is known for is the small youth organization he founded in the barangay—the Association of Spirited and Ardent Youth or ASAY. The name of the organization is derived from the local expression “Asay” which is a shortened version of “Asa ang…” or “Where is the…”. “Asay” is is normally used by the youth when they are asking for ‘news’ about celebrations in the neighborhood so they can go there, join the party, and eat: “Asay kaon” or “Where is the food.” This is how Mario and his team found inspiration in creating a youth community through food and celebrations. Whenever there is a celebration in the barangay such as a birthday dinner, Mario and the rest of the youth in the village would meet not only to enjoy food but also to exchange stories, ideas, and aspirations. The organization started with 19 members in 2019; now, they have more than 70 youth members. The primary target members of the organization are out-of-school youth or youth who were allegedly users of illegal drugs.

Presently, the youth members from the organizations who did not have the eagerness to go to school anymore finally enrolled in the most recently opened school year. Accordingly, none of them use illegal drugs anymore; the parents are at peace because their children come home earlier. They used to come home late because of their vices.

Mario says, “Lami bitaw paminawon nga you changed someone’s perspective. Nga imbis magpa bilin sila sa drugs, why not go to school?”


 “It is nice to hear that you changed someone’s perspective in life. Instead of remaining a drug user, why not go to school?”


After hearing about the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response’s plans on protection activities, Mario got excited to participate in another volunteer opportunity for his youth community in Barangay Mandaug. As someone who has a passion for teaching and communicating, he is eager to put into action all the lessons on Children’s Protection that he gained from the series of training.

Mario (in white long-sleeved shirt for the left photo and in maroon shirt in the right photo) brainstorming with his team during a workshop as part of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Training

Mario shares, “Mapasalamaton ko sa Action Against Hunger sa pag pili sa among barangay. Kay sa tinuod lang, adunay daghan kaayo nga number of children nga maka benepesyo sa ilang programa which is the Child Friendly Space. Dako kaayo ni og tabang namo, isip opesyales sa barangay, nga amoang mahatagan og serbisyp ang amoang mga kabatan-onan didto, nga imbis sa bisyu sila, ari sila sa programa sa Action Against Hunger, which is the Child-Friendly Space…Ang dili gyud nako pwede makalimtan [nga gi tudlo sa Action Against Hunger] kay giving value to children.”


“I am thankful to Action Against Hunger for choosing our barangay as one of the beneficiaries. Indeed, we have many children who will benefit from the program, the Child Friendly Space. This is a great help to us, barangay officials, in providing service to our youth and encouraging them to participate in the program rather than get into vices….One thing I will never forget about Action Against Hunger is the lesson on giving value to children.”


Barangay Mandaug is one of the 19 barangays in Bohol that received training on Protection and funds for building a Child-Friendly Space in their respective communities. Aside from this, the residents in Mandaug also received Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Kits from Action Against Hunger as part of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project.

Mario listens to his co-participant reciting during the training

Mario was recently hired as a public high school teacher and will soon start his professional teaching journey. Knowing his dedication and passion for public service, youth development, and volunteerism, we are optimistic about the kind of educator he will be to the younger generation — young, bold, and caring. Hopefully, he will educate more youth to have the same dedication and passion as him.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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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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