When Typhoon Haiyan made landfall last November, Casimira Amoren Asidto, 33, was holding a wake for her husband, who had passed away from acute appendicitis a few days earlier.
Outside her house, gusts of wind were tearing through the village, snapping trees in half and whipping debris into the air. By 9 a.m., the walls of her house had begun to collapse. After the storm, Casimira and her children moved in with her parents and in the early days relied on emergency water and food distributed by aid organizations.
Now a single mother with four children under the age of eleven, Casimira knew that supporting her family would be a struggle. The sporadic income she earned from selling fish at the local market was insufficient for rebuilding her home and sending her children to school, much less for expanding her business.
But thanks to your compassion and support, Casimira and others like her now have hope for the future. Your donations have provided thousands of Filipinos with the opportunity to rebuild their lives better, stronger and more resilient than ever.
In January, Casimira became one of the first people to register for Mercy Corps’ mobile-money transfer program, which uses mobile technology to provide recovery funds to families hit hardest by the storm.
Many people across the Philippines’ 7,000 islands live on less than $2 USD per day, and 80 percent of them lack access to brick-and-mortar banking services. In such precarious financial circumstances, finding the money to rebuild after a massive disaster like Haiyan can be a daunting task.
That’s why Mercy Corps partnered with BanKO, the Philippines’ first mobile-based bank, to connect 25,000 families like Casimira’s with cash transfers through mobile savings accounts.
The transfers provide urgent funds to families working to rebuild their homes and livelihoods, and the spending boosts the economy, which helps the entire region recover more quickly.
Casimira decided to use the first of her three cash transfers to make a down payment on a plot of land near her mother’s house, on which she will eventually build a new home.
And when she receives the remaining two cash transfers, she wants to leave them in her savings account to earn interest, pay her children’s school fees and save in case of an emergency.
Because of your support, Mercy Corps has been able to bring hope to those hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. Casimira is optimistic and sincerely grateful for the support her family has received.
“Thank you that you have come into my life. You have helped me so much, helped me move on,” she told us. “Thank you for teaching me how to plan for the future, how to plan for my children’s future and for helping me put them through school. My life now has direction.”
After armed Seleka rebels overthrew the government in 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) – already one of the world’s poorest nations - devolved into a scene of chaos and terror. Marauding bands of Seleka and anti-balaka soldiers swept across the country massacring innocent civilians, pillaging, and destroying homes. Nearly one million people, half of them from the capital of Bangui, fled to overcrowded refugee camps lacking clean water and adequate sanitation facilities. As the rainy season began, refugees found themselves exposed to turbulent weather - dangerous gusts of wind and heavy downpours. To make matters worse, overflowing latrines, puddles of dirty water, and piles of trash fostered the ideal setting for an outbreak of malaria and typhoid fever.
Despite the dire situation, all hope is not lost. There continues to be an opportunity to positively influence the course of action in CAR. And that’s where you come in.
Thanks to your support, Mercy Corps has launched an emergency response to assist and protect those impacted by the conflict. Immediately after the coup, Mercy Corps refocused existing programs in CAR to prioritize urgent needs, with an emphasis on providing safe spaces for children, preventing gender-based violence, and raising awareness about hygiene. At the most populous refugee camp, Mercy Corps is overseeing the construction of 100 latrines and draining channels for stagnant water. In the coming weeks, Mercy Corps plans to distribute clean water and soap to 25,000 people, as well as continue to educate refugees about good hygiene practice. Finally, Mercy Corps continues to prioritize work around gender-based violence and listening centers remain open to provide emotional support, legal counseling and medical referrals to those who have suffered gender-based violence or sectarian attacks.
Saving and Improving Lives in the World’s Toughest Places: When you donate to Mercy Corps, you make it possible to deliver emergency food and supplies, and help families and communities become more resilient to crises long-term. In CAR, your donation helps protect vulnerable survivors, meet their basic needs for water and food, and provides the nation’s residents with hope that, one day, they can live in comfort and safety.
Change is not possible without you. Thank you for being a partner in this life-changing work.
You can continue to make a difference by:
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to travel to Niger with Mercy Corps, and I wanted to send you an update on the situation people are facing there right now and the support they are receiving because of your generosity.
I spent two days visiting villages in Ouallam, a region in western Niger that was at the epicenter of the food crisis in 2012. Unfortunately, drought returned again this past fall, and the vast fields of millet, their staple crop, barely grew. It is brown and dry and empty as far as you can see. In Tolkoboye Fondobon village, the women told me that most households only have enough food to eat one meal a day until the next harvest in September.
But they were also eager to show me their new sources of hope and pride — the goats they received from Mercy Corps and the savings they have accumulated in the village savings and loans groups we helped them form. Both of these assets will allow the women to buy food in the market when they need it most this lean season. It's the first time in many of their lives that they've had the resources to help their families themselves.
These women struggle just to eat every day, but they are so strong. I spent some time with one woman named Santou. I was so happy to see that the two goats that Mercy Corps gave her over a year ago have now turned into five. Though she worries about the bad harvest, she is focused on her animals and what they can provide with her hard work — an income that is not dependent on the unpredictable rain.
That's what I saw over and over throughout my visit — communities asking for the opportunity to work hard to help themselves. And a team who is dedicated to finding the solutions that work best in these harsh conditions. I hope you will accept my sincerest thanks for your support on behalf of families in the Sahel. This is another difficult time in Niger, but without you, Mercy Corps would not be able to help families through it.