Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Typhoon Haiyan survivors adapt to rebuild their lives

Reuters, BASEY, Philippines

Pigs, goats and chickens and produce for convenience stories are among the most popular items bought by survivors.

Fisherman Napoleon Caramol, 44, has planted root vegetables in his garden and is planning to rear pigs with his wife.

His wife, Elizabeth, was nine months pregnant with their ninth child when Haiyan swept away their rickety home on a coconut farm in Marabut municipality in central Philippines.

They took refuge with 60 other families in a hillside cave, one of many dotted along the beautiful, winding coastline in Samar province, during the storm. His wife feared for her life, but delivered a healthy boy, named Cavein Cuevas, five days later.

Emerging from the cave, they had to rebuild their home and lives, just relieved they had never taken on any debt.

“The typhoon left a big hole in our small paddle boat and destroyed parts of our fishing nets. They’re beyond repair,” 36-year-old Elizabeth Caramol said.

“Now if we do not get fish or cannot buy rice, we eat root vegetables... We are planning to raise pigs with the grant from [child healthcare charity] Terres des Hommes and maybe I’ll set up a small grocery stall,” she said.

The ICRC has offered vocational training in sustainable farming, hog rearing, bookkeeping and arithmetic, and advice on how to diversify and grow businesses to help survivors.

Work on rebuilding areas hit by Haiyan is continuing, with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III only approving a US$3.74 billion master plan to rebuild housing, social services and public infrastructure at the end last month.

Many families had to adjust to survive.

Felipa Balbuana had not worked for years and is now one of about 20 typhoon survivors working in a factory in Tacloban, the worst hit city, to produce backpacks and help supplement her husband’s increasingly meager income as a fish vendor.

Members of the Leyte Union of Producers of Agricultural Products lost their livelihoods and are working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to use lumber from coconut trees to build temporary shelters.

The IOM estimates about 130,000 coconut trees will be salvaged to produce enough lumber to construct 5,800 shelters in three typhoon-

affected regions by February.

“The fallen and damaged coconut trees are our last resources. We have to use our meager resources instead of waiting for somebody to help,” said Noel Inot, 39, a coconut farmer and member of the union.

While survivors of Haiyan work hard to rebuild their lives, the devastation and deaths caused by the typhoon has left them concerned about their security and that of their children.

“I do worry about our future. A storm like that could happen again and next time we may not survive,” Elizabeth Caramol said.

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