“We’ve already gone past the relief stage,” says Oscar Garol, Village Director of SOS Children’s Village Tacloban. “Right now, we’re focusing on giving help that goes beyond dole-outs, to giving help that can really make an impact for the people of Tacloban.”
30 October 2014 - A key goal of any SOS Children’s Villages’ emergency response work is to ensure that the help we give is not just relevant to the people affected, but also sustainable.
Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines and one of the strongest storms ever recorded on the globe, made landfall in the Philippines on 8 November 2013. It destroyed thousands of homes, schools and businesses in the Tacloban region alone, and over 6,300 people in the Philippines lost their lives.
Emergency rescue teams from international NGOs, including SOS Children's Villages, were on the ground almost immediately to help with urgent needs. One year later, our emergency work continues, with a committed focus on sustainable help that can be built upon for a brighter future.
Hope for orphaned children: the SOS Kinship Programme
Helping children has always been at the core of SOS Children’s Villages' mission and work. Therefore, the heart of our emergency response programme in Tacloban, where SOS Children's Villages has been working for 40 years, is helping orphaned children. Our Kinship Programme, which was designed to specifically support children who lost parents or caretakers in the typhoon, is now helping 124 children. Each child in the Kinship Programme receives, through their guardian, a monthly stipend to cover expenses for education, clothing, health care, and even day-to-day expenses like transportation and food for school.
Students from Palanog 12 Elementary School, having fun during their lessons. Photo: Sebastian Posingis
SOS Children’s Villages has taken on full responsibility for rebuilding and reconstructing Palanog 12 Elementary School, which was completely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. By early 2015, we plan to have restored 12 classrooms and other essential facilities, so that the children of Palanog will again have a safe and supportive place for learning.
Building homes, securing families
The house-building element of the SOS Children’s Villages emergency response programme aims to build approximately 600 houses for families in need at two different target relocation sites. The Acosta family, with three children, were the first to receive a model house from SOS Children’s Villages. Before, they were living in a hut. Their new home serves as the blueprint for hundreds more houses yet to come.
Fisherman Nestor (front) and his partner carry their new fishing boat, donated by the SOS Children's Villages' livelihood programme, into the sea for a day's work. Photo: Sebastian Posingis
The old adage goes: give a man fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. “We leverage the existing skills of the people," said Mr Garol. 'If they were fishermen [before Haiyan], we give them boats. If they were carpenters, we give them heavy duty tools of their own. If they used to be the neighborhood cook, we give them capital to re-start their own carinderias [food stalls],” So far, the breadwinners of 467 families throughout the Tacloban region have restarted their livelihoods through the help of such gifts from the SOS Children’s Villages’ livelihood programme.
Sustaining a living
A unique way to help: Child-Care Spaces
SOS Chilren's Villages set out to establish the first child-care spaces (CCS) in Tacloban, with the first being set up just one week after Typhoon Haiyan, when the communities were still reeling from the catastrophe.
“In these calamities, it has been our experience that children become the most vulnerable group,” Sumanta Kar, Deputy National Director of SOS Children’s Villages India noted. “Schools are closed and they are neglected for more pressing or practical issues like looking for food and shelter – burdens that a mere child should not have to bear.”
The SOS Children’s Villages CCS feature various therapeutic exercises like storytelling, painting, games, music and the like. For the children, CCS activities provide a way to talk, play and share their experiences with others of their own age. For the parents, CCS are a safe place to leave their children while they work on rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.
SOS Children’s Villages International established 11 Child-Care Spaces all over Tacloban and served more than 2000 children. More than 32 volunteer advocates – some of them part of the communities themselves – participated as facilitators for the CCS facilities.
Children playing on the central lawn of the revitalised SOS Children's Village Tacloban. Photo: Sebastian Posingis
Rebuilding the SOS village
Completely destroyed in the storm, the SOS Children’s Village in Tacloban was a ‘ghost town’ in the days after Haiyan. Today, it is bustling with activity again, especially with children playing and having fun.
A systematic reconstruction effort has been undertaken at SOS Children’s Village Tacloban. The village is now bigger and better than even before the catastrophe – a safe and secure haven for children.
“It wouldn’t be a Children’s Village without children … it was a happy day when we all returned to our homes,” said Mr Garol.