Cesar Maraya and Richard Grefiel, two fishermen in the coastal town of Bislig, Philippines, are enormously relieved to have fishing boats again. They won’t have to continue searching for work in town on a daily basis. Instead, they can return to their old, longstanding livelihood: fishing.
On 31 March, 18 fibreglass boats were handed over by SOS Children’s Villages Emergency Response Programme (SOS ERP) co-workers to 36 villagers in the fishing communities of Bislig and Magay – both devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
Pairs of fishermen share one boat with an engine and nets. It takes two people to fish at sea from a boat like this.
Before Typhoon Haiyan, the fishing community used boats made of plywood that did not meet the legally-mandated government standards. SOS ERP co-workers, in consultation with the Agriculture Department, introduced eco-friendly fibreglass boats which the fishermen are now using for the first time.
The new boats are the same size as their old ones, and the engines and nets are also similar. Through a partnership with the Agriculture Department the fishermen will be trained in how to use and maintain the new boats.
Village residents and SOS Children´s Villages staff discuss community rebuilding plans.
At separate events in Bislig and Magay the boats were given to the villagers in the presence of Dr. Niceferio Liberato, agriculture officer of Tanauan Municipality, Mr Efren Merilo, head of the Bisleg district, Mr. Jigo Bermejo, head of the Magay district, and SOS co-workers.
Dr Liberato, in his address, spoke of the advantages of the new boats, saying that they would last longer. He noted that each boat would be registered with the fishery department and that officials would gather the necessary paperwork so that their new owners could be eligible for compensation from the Government and other agencies in case of future loss.
The heads of both coastal villages expressed their sincere gratitude to the co-workers of the SOS ERP for helping families revive lost livelihoods.
Addressing the people, Sumanta Kar, the ERP coordinator, said: “Many donors and friends of the global SOS family have come together to participate in your efforts to rebuild your lives. This support will help you generate increased income.”
The SOS ERP team initiated the sustainable livelihood programme to rebuild the lives of people in Bislig and Magay, in Tanauan Municipality – which was severely affected by the Typhoon.
Along the coastal belt fishing communities were devastated – they lost their boats, engines and nets in the catastrophe. As a result they began working as day labourers to earn a livelihood. Since the use of fibreglass boats was new to the area and a boat builder was not available in or around Tacloban, the ERP team had to make special efforts to identify boat-makers who could build the boats to the sizes and specifications needed by their future owners. This was achieved with the active participation of the fishermen and the ERP team.
Village residents carrying boxes of essential household supplies provided by SOS Children´s Villages.
Thus far, the SOS ERP has supported 147 families in Bislig and Magay under the sustainable livelihood programme. In addition to providing 36 families with boats, the SOS ERP team has further helped Philippine families to get back on their feet by providing 29 ‘Pedicabs’, 44 livestock animals, 19 tools, and with set-up support for 19 small businesses. SOS is seeking to ensure that each of the 264 families in the two districts has a livelihood.