* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
ShelterBox is helping in more ways than providing shelter for Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines. The international disaster relief charity is also helping communities to rebuild their livelihoods, particularly the fishing industry, according to Response Team volunteer Anne Seuren, who was in the Asian country earlier this year.
‘On Kinatarcan island we met Jeresita Piamonte, a young mother with her three children. Her husband is a fisherman. He spends all night at sea while Jeresita looks after the children. They explained that fishermen have more success at night because they hang their kerosene lanterns over the side of the boat, which attracts the fish, making it easier to catch them by net.
‘Many of the fishing boats in these communities were destroyed during the storm, and as fishing is practically the only economy on the island, many families were forced to spend the first few months trying to rebuild their boats. Most are using the materials aid agencies had given them before they could start earning money to purchase materials for their houses.
‘Whilst Jeresita’s husband spent the time rebuilding his boat, Jeresita was trying to rebuild their house in the spare time that she had, after taking care of the children, cleaning and cooking. She was using gathered wood and used pieces of corrugated tin when we went to visit. Her youngest son Elzed was also doing his best to try and help, swinging a hammer in the air with no avail.
‘She told me how bad she felt that her young children were having to live in a house that didn’t protect them from the rain, even though she was trying to fix the roof as quickly as she could. Therefore she was overwhelmed when we told her we were giving her and her family a ShelterBox tent the next day.
‘She was speechless and said: ‘Thank you miss.’ I explained to her that it wasn’t just me giving them that tent but it was also thanks to many people worldwide who have helped by donating money. She was amazed that so many people cared.
‘For me it was heartbreaking to see how grateful the Philippine people are. On the other hand it was so good to see they are starting to rebuild their lives. Even knowing how hard it is to have her children sleep in a shack, Jeresita and her husband decided it was the wise thing to do to use the little money they had for materials to first fix their boat.
‘Dry warm place to sleep’
‘It feels good that we can help this family, giving them a dry warm place to sleep until they have saved enough money to repair their house.’