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We help people caught up in natural disasters and conflicts across the world with clean water, food, sanitation and protection. At any given time, we are responding to over 30 emergency situations, giving life-saving support to those most in need.
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Five years since Super Typhoon Haiyan, the worst storm ever to hit the Philippines, here are the critical lessons learned. Through your generous support, we've been to reach more than 850,000 people with humanitarian aid. How amazing is that - thank you!
When super-typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, it devastated the country, killing 6,000 people and displacing 4.1 million others. Yet Lan Mercado, Deputy Regional Director in Oxfam Asia, saw opportunities for social transformation in Yolanda’s wake. Have they materialized?
We might feel aggrieved when we’ve gone out of our way to do something for someone and receive no word of thanks afterwards. I’m sure most of us have felt that way and have been equally guilty of failing to say ‘thank you’ at some time. But working as part of Oxfam’s emergency response team my colleagues and I don’t expect to receive any thanks from the people we work with. It’s our job and it’s their right to receive help during the worst of times - when a disaster has devastated their lives, families, homes, communities, countries.
Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread damage to livelihoods. Among the worst affected, was coconut farming with millions of trees being uprooted, damaged or destroyed.
One coconut farmers association estimated the damage to be around 98%. Dubbed as the “tree of life”, it takes between five to seven years for a coconut tree to become productive so recovery will take a long time.
Sur l’île de Bantayan, au nord de Cebu, j’ai trouvé un ukulélé de fabrication artisanale. Quand j’ai commencé à en jouer, les gens autour de moi se sont mis à chanter le célèbre chant de Noël « We wish you a merry Christmas ». Je ne sais pas vraiment qui d’entre nous était le plus surpris ! Aux Philippines, on fête Noël en grand. Dans la ville de Cebu, un panneau annonce pas moins de « douze semaines de fêtes de Noël ». Ca ne plaisante pas ! Noël est généralement l’événement le plus important de l’année. Mais cette année n’est pas une année comme les autres.
En la isla de Bantayan, en Cebú del Norte, encuentro un ukelele casero. Cuando empiezo a tocarlo, el grupo de gente a mi alrededor se pone a cantar “We wish you a merry Christmas’". No estoy segura de quién es la más sorprendida. La Navidad se celebra a lo grande en Filipinas. En la ciudad de Cebú hay un letrero que pone 'Las doce semanas de Navidad'. Y no bromean. La Navidad es generalmente la mayor festividad del año, pero este no es un año normal.
On Bantayan Island, North Cebu, I find a home made ukulele. When I play it the crowd of people around me start singing ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’. I’m not sure who’s the most surprised. Christmas is big in the Philippines. In Cebu City there’s a sign ‘The twelve weeks of Christmas’. They’re not joking. Christmas is normally the biggest event of the year, but this is not a normal year.
This post was written by Lan Mercado, Oxfam’s Deputy Regional Director in Asia. She served as Oxfam’s Country Director in the Philippines from 2001-2009. It was written with contributions from Shaheen Chugtai, Deputy Head of Oxfam’s Humanitarian and Security Issues Team, and research from Paht Tan-Attanawin, Oxfam Project Officer.