For Dennis Almorin and his family, Typhoon Haiyan meant losing everything, from their home to his fishing boat. In the aftermath, the Almorins had to borrow a friend’s boat, split the catch just to earn a living and scrape by on donated food and clothing. But today, nearly a year after the devastation, Dennis is the owner of a new fishing boat and is back to work through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and local partner NVC’s program restoring employment to local fisherman on the island of Lat-Asan.
Over the past 12 months, JDC has invested over $1.5m of $2.7 million raised from the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors in rebuilding classrooms and schools, restoring local fishing businesses, offering medical and psychological help, and facilitating disaster preparedness. These projects, and initial emergency work, have directly benefitted more than 15,000 people across the archipelago.
In the days and weeks after the typhoon hit, JDC delivered food, medicine, sanitary kits and tents to locals in a race against time. Once the situation stabilized, JDC’s humanitarian work entered a second, longer phase helping the region recover. Funds have been spent on immediate relief (24%), rebuilding and repairing schools (27%), psychological support (16%), restoring livelihoods (23%) and disaster preparedness (10%).
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (UN-OCHA), a total of 2,189 classrooms were damaged, affecting about 100,000 pupils. JDC sought to mitigate the damage by building 12 new classrooms at two elementary schools in northern Cebu, allowing 1,200 children to resume studies. It also renovated four preschools on Panay Island, now serving 500 children, and will finish building two new preschools in the coming months.
JDC is also in the process of replacing fishing boats on Panay, where thousands of fisherman have lost their livelihoods. To date, and with a greater distribution planned in the near future, more than a dozen catamarans have been handed over to 17 fishermen. JDC has also deployed a delegation of post-trauma experts from the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) to help locals come to terms with their loss. The ITC team is building on experience they gained working with JDC in Haiti and Japan over the past five years.
JDC is also helping local communities on Bohol and Panay Islands impacted by the Typhoon better prepare for disasters by providing disaster risk reduction workshops that map and assess risks, helping local governments develop appropriate protocol. On Panay, this includes a track that will enhance local capacity to mainstream and offer people with disabilities social service support and supplies.