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Restored Smiles in the Philippines

May 31, 2023
The beneficiaries of barangay Garcia posed for a group picture.
The beneficiaries of barangay Garcia posed for a group picture.
Photo: World Renew

When supertyphoon Odette struck Siargao Island in the Philippines on Dec. 16, 2021, it brought physical devastation but also emotional distress. Many survivors felt hopeless as they surveyed the havoc the storm had created. The island was nearly flattened, leaving nearly all of the houses destroyed and the main crop, coconut, 70 percent ruined.

Relief goods from the mainland came soon, and Siargao Island residents were at least able to survive for a month before running low on supplies. More pressing needs, though, as identified by our team at World Renew, were a lack of livelihood opportunities and sturdy shelter, since many people were living in makeshift houses built from debris.

World Renew and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), both ACT Alliance members, submitted an appeal so that they could respond to the great needs in the many affected areas. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unexpected war in Ukraine, however, there were very limited funds available.

In 2022, World Renew was able to implement a three-month shelter repair project in Santa Monica town, the hardest hit area on the island. World Renew was able to assist 287 households with shelter materials. The assisted families were thankful for better and stronger houses. Their children were eager to sleep without being disturbed by the dripping rain. The success of this work seemed small, though, considering that the island has a population of 136,000 people.

Then, after five months, two main supporters of the project decided to visit the country for monitoring, and they included the work of World Renew on their itinerary. Seeing the plight of the affected people in Siargao, these organizations pledged to provide additional funds for livelihood recovery projects. So as of today, four months later, the World Renew team has completed more livelihood recovery projects benefiting 586 households in Santa Monica.

 “We never expected that World Renew would come back and visit us again,” one participant told me. "Typhoon Odette came and destroyed our houses and livelihood assets, but you came and gave us more than what was lost: an unexpected blessing from God! Thank you so much.”

With your prayers and support, families in Siargao have been able to rebuild and find renewed hope. Joy comes in the morning. I believe their smiles will last because they will strive hard to nurture what we have planted together.