Food and Water for Philippine Typhoon Survivors

by Asia America Initiative
School Lunch Program cooked by Moms in Cuartero
School Lunch Program cooked by Moms in Cuartero

 "People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success."   --  Norman Vincent Peale

"We have risen from the depths of despair," says Principal Luz, at Cuartero Central Elementary School, in an area devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.  "The key to recovery has been the entire community working together with the support of our friends at Asia America Initiative. They convinced teachers and parents that even when government funds were scarce that we could find a way to rebuild our lives through our own faith, sweat and partnership."

The devastation caused by Haiyan affected millions of families in thousands of communities across the central Philippines region of Visayas.  Asia America Initiative was on the scene from November 2013, when the super-storm crushed the region with 200 mile-per-hour winds and tidal wave surges of up to 30 feet high, which crushed everything in its path.  AAI Director Albert Santoli says.  “We began forming partnerships with NGOs, government organizations and private citizens – including high school and college students.  After around four months of distributing food, water and shelter and medicines, we began the long-term rebuilding process.  While other outside groups spent their donations and departed, AAI has carefully budgeted funds and created trust with local officials and parents at public schools to carry the rebuilding forward into our 4th year of consistent hard work….  It has been high spirited and great fun, too. We believe in each other.”

The central program that has empowered the children is the “Moms to the Rescue” daily school lunch program. For less than 50 cents a day, AAI and parents have purchased enough food for big pots of soups and stews cooked on open fires at the schools by Moms, Dads and Grandmoms.  Serving is done by teachers.  No child is excluded.  Ist grade teacher Nelz at Maindang Elementary School reflects, “When the storm happened we were in shock and didn’t know how our school and community of poor farm workers could recover.  But Director Santoli and AAI’s assistance has only required that we try our best and do our part to help ourselves. In the manner that AAi never gives up and believes in us, that has inspired everyone. A positive attitude has made believers out of all of us.”

In a world overwhelmed with new natural and man-made disasters every week, tightly-budgeted mutual assistance is imperative.  “The ongoing blood, sweat and tears of rebuilding in our typhoon-recovery communities could not have happened without Global Giving and our GG donor partners,”  says Asia America Initiative Visayas Coordinator, Nurse Faith: “Every time we have almost run out of funds, our donor partners come to the rescue.  We could not have done this without Global Giving’s campaigns and support and most importantly the inner-belief and hard work of the local Visayas communities.  It is impossible to put our gratitude into words.”

Lunch is served at Maindang Elementary School
Lunch is served at Maindang Elementary School
Eating lunch in classroom as a family
Eating lunch in classroom as a family
Nutrition and Good Health = Improved Academics
Nutrition and Good Health = Improved Academics
Community pride in schools = children feel loved
Community pride in schools = children feel loved
Tastes so good!!
Tastes so good!!

Links:

December, 2016 has been a joyful time in Asia America Initiative's eight model elementary schools in the Visayas Region of the Philippines.  Just three years ago, in November 2013, the region was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, the largest super storm in modern history.  Millions of people were living in temporary shelters and hundreds of schools and public health facilities damaged beyond repair.  Everyone on site, whether in local government or the international humanitarian community was shocked and unprepared for the intensity of the storm.  Most agencies received funding for only a short period of program life.  To make matters worse, corrupt government officials squandered millions of dollars of international assistance funds.  Asia America Initiative's local staff and US-based director saw that at least a four year plan would be needed with more and more responsibility for recovery shifting from foreign charitable assistance to the talent and labor by local community leaders and residents. 

We determined that the job of AAI is to instill confidence by not walking away.  We learned to compensate for scarce funds by setting a good example of accountability, oversite and strict budgeting.  The results in the Districts of Duenas, Iloilo and Cuartero, Capiz have been outstanding.  In AAI's schools, libraries of donated books have compensated for destroyed learning materials, daily lunch programs led by parents and teachers have led to full attendance. Wholesale athletic equipment has inspired championship athletic performances. Clean water systems built by parents and neighbors has dramatically improved health and hygiene.  Our success is a fusion of global and local effort.

Principal Luz Mayo Roxas at Angub Elementary School in Cuartero has both Filipino and rural mountain tribal children in her classrooms.  Everyone is treated equally and eats together every day as a big family, with Mothers and grandmothers doing the cooking and serving. Even before the great storm, these communities were largely underserved and forgotten by the rest of society.  Principal Roxas says, "It has been the partnership between our schools here in Cuartero with AAI and your donors that has made a great boost to our success. Last month we received stuff toys from AAI to rewards our honor pupils from third up to first honors in math, science and spelling.

“God is our great healer.  But God will especially bless those people whose hearts whose have the fruits of the Spirit by their giving to children in need.  Our division was happy for the provision of books because we use them for teachers' references and fun activities for the children. We have also seen a significant improvement in students' attendance and classroom work due to the free feeding which very helpful for our children.  The gardens with seeds from AAI and local farmers have made school lunches affordable and reduced malnutrition from over half of our pupils to practically none who have empty stomachs today."

“All of us are praying  that your program will not end.  These gifts are a great help for me as a principal and for our teachers.  This is a great motivator for the Filipino children who are aware enough to be inspired by good samaritans who extend their help to those who are in need.  We will never forget your kindness.”  

Grandma Serves School Lunch
Grandma Serves School Lunch
Reading Class with AAI donated books
Reading Class with AAI donated books
Star Wars Books in 3-D at Carataya Elementary
Star Wars Books in 3-D at Carataya Elementary
6th Grade 1st Prize winner in Plant Science
6th Grade 1st Prize winner in Plant Science
Boy Scouts clean yard at Maindang Elementary
Boy Scouts clean yard at Maindang Elementary
Girl Scout troop at Bulak Elementary SChool
Girl Scout troop at Bulak Elementary SChool

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Fun lunch at Maindang Elementary School, Capiz
Fun lunch at Maindang Elementary School, Capiz

"Thank you for giving us, books, seeds, rubber slippers [sandals] and school supplies.  We appreciate your concern for us.  We promise we will study hard.  Thank you and God bless." Noel C., Grade 6 pupil, Catig-Lacadon Elementary

   In November,  2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines islands and coastal areas.  Brutal 200 mph winds and 30 foot storm surges [tidal waves] made Haiyan the most devasting storm in recorded history. Some 9 million people were rendered homeless and hundreds of schools and clean water systems were destroyed. As we approach the third anniversary, many communities and schools are still in recovery.  Asia America Initiavre is one of the few international humanitarian organizations that is still in full operational mode in the countryside areas of  Iloilo and Capiz provinces.  Even before the storm, the poverty rate of agricultural workers and small farmers was rampant and the malnutrition rate of children, whether of the Ilongo ethnic group or the mountain hilltribes was well over 50 percent. In his recent visit to some 10 school district or village schools in those areas, AAI Director Albert Santoli held community meetings with teachers and parents to better undedrstand and adapt these model programs for a wider outreach and scope of services. Principal Rowena Siverstre Ortizo of Catig-Lacadon Elementary in Duenas, Iloilo, says: "Thank you so much for the continued feeding programs of AAI The parents and students look forward to school each day because our schools have become true centers of health and learning. Our children's health directly affects their school attendance and classroom performance. We are so blessed and grateful to be one of your recepient schools"  

 "Thank you for giving us garden tools, books and many school supplies.  Many children are very happy because in afternoons pupils come to library and read books."  Ann P., Grade 6 Pupil, Aurora-Araneta Elementary

 In addition to food and clean water, the education, sports and health needs in damaged schools are being replenished, Student's fathers do volunteer construction and rennovation of buildings destroyed in the mega-storm.   In Cuartero, Capiz the results have been dramatic. “I have been to Carataya Elementary School, San Antonio Elementary and Maindang Elementary School conducting the pre-assessment in Math and English,"  says Dr. Luz Rojas Mayo of the Curatero Department of Education.  "I am happy to inform you that the said schools are now improving in terms of their health status as well on their academic performance. We are so blessed for the continuous support.of AAI and our community mobilization campaigns."  The recovery of Capiz province schools which were heavily damaged by the super typhoon.his has been made possible by the generosity of Global Giving donors. The key catalyst for success is partnership of AAI with local civic groups, village officials and parents and teachers at under-supplied schools.   

"Thank you, Sir Albert Santoli and your friends for giving the food to my classmates and other children in this school Catig-Lacadon.  We love you because you help this school.  We remember you wherever you are going to help many children in their places.  God bless you and your friends' families."  Juna Lyn R., 5th Grade, Catig-Lacadon

The new 2016-17 school year began in mid-June. Malnutrition has dropped from close to 50 percent of all students to around 5 percent. Each school now has a water tank and wash basins to provide for adequate sanitation. The quality of drinking water has dramatically improved, reducing water-borne and mosquito related illnesses. AAI and our donor-partners are viewed as reliable friends while communities re-establish farming and fishing as means of livelihood and basic sustenance. In September AAI added a new component to the rebuilding of western Visayas -- support to schools to keep youths away from drug addiction and to assist the police to reduce violence in the country-wide war on drugs.  AAI's Coordinator in Visayas, Nurse Faith Omel Dela Torre also works with the national police on the coastal Sebaste District, a frontline of the government's anti-drug campaign.  "We are coordinating with the police to distribute books, classroom supplies and games in isolated public schools,"  Nurse Faith explains.  

"The Sebaste police station officers would like to thank AAI for the generosity. The program is titled, "Oplan Ikaaram sang Kabaataan"... Ikaaram means knowledge and kabataan means children.  Everyone is very happy that AAI is part of this initiative of PNP [Philippine National Police].”

We have made great progress, in large part due to the kindness of Global Giving donors.  We are preparing for one more year of transition programs until Christmas of 2017.  Our goal is for these hard working comunities to get fully back on their feet.  We humbly ask you to join us through your ongoing support to build our school-based programs in Duenas and Capiz into Global Models of Excellence for Natural Disaster Recovery.  

Grandma teaches Moms for big crowd at school lunch
Grandma teaches Moms for big crowd at school lunch
Amazing school garden, Angub Elementary, Capiz
Amazing school garden, Angub Elementary, Capiz
Moms and Dads serve school lunch
Moms and Dads serve school lunch
AAI School Library at Aurora-Araneta ES, Duenas
AAI School Library at Aurora-Araneta ES, Duenas
Girl Scout Jamboree in Batad, Iloilo
Girl Scout Jamboree in Batad, Iloilo
Cuartero Natl HS Championship badmitton team
Cuartero Natl HS Championship badmitton team
Celebrating Natl Teachers Day at Aurora-Araneta ES
Celebrating Natl Teachers Day at Aurora-Araneta ES

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Children enjoy school lunch in Cuartero
Children enjoy school lunch in Cuartero

The 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is considered the most devasting storm in recorded history. Some 9 million people were rendered homeless and hundreds of schools and clean water systems were destroyed. As we approach the third annivertsary, many communities and schools are still in recovery. Many international organizations intervened with million of dollars worth of emergency aid, but today only a few outsiders remain on-site and continue to assist the rebuilding of broken lives. Asia America Initiative learned valuable lessons about supporting a transition from charity to self-reliance at the community level as the key to sustainable development. This has been made possible by the generoisty provided by our many private Global Giving donors and a small number of non-governmental foundations. 

The emphasis of Asia America Initiative has been to support clean water systems and vegetable gardens, utilizing public schools as non-partisan community centers. Our goal, with the input from community leaders is to make a transition from emergency relief to self-reliance based on local enterprise and volunteerism within a 4 year period [Christmas Season 2014].  "Our community never expected such generosity and has truly appreciated the loyalty and substantial improvements in the eduction and health conditions of our children," says Principal Luz Roxas Mayo of Angub Elementary School in the rural hillside farning community of Cuartero, Capiz that was heavily damaged by the super typhoon.  

The new 2016-17 school year began in mid-June. Already at least 10 schools with more than 2,000 student kindergarden to elementary students have benefitted from AAI's partnership with Moms and Dads in Parent-Teachers Associations who are assisted by teachers and pupils to grow and cook nutritious lunches each day of the week on school grounds. Malnutrition has dropped from close to 35 percent of all students down to around 5 percent. Each school now has a water tank and wash basins to provide for adequate sanitation. The quality of drinking water has dramatically improved, reducing water-borne and mosquito related illnesses. AAI and our donor-partners are viewed as reliable friends while communities re-establish farming and fishing as means of livelihood and basic sustenance. "The parents really cooperate," says Principal Rowena Ortizo at Catig-Lacadon Elementary school, "Because they know their kids like to go to school to enjoy their delicious lunch.... From the bottom of our hearts, the kids wish you and your partners' families many blessings."

School Garden Angub Elementary School
School Garden Angub Elementary School
A happy meal at Angub Elementary School
A happy meal at Angub Elementary School

Links:

Children, teachers and parents serve lunch
Children, teachers and parents serve lunch

One of the most heartwarming activities of Asia America Initiative in the Philippines has been the rebuilding and special care to the water, hygiene and nutritional conditions of children in rural areas who were largely invisible to the outside world. Parents, teachers and school children have been willing to conduct the “sweat equity” needed for the physical rebuilding. AAI’s local staff members have demonstrated unceasing care and commitment to their neighbors. The roles of GlobalGiving’s administrators and hundreds of ordinary people who have sent donations, have made our sustainability possible.

We have made a choice to remain at least one more year to ensure people’s self-confidence that they can carry-on.  During the first quarter of 2016, AAI expanded our programs related to clean water, hygiene, school-based gardens and daily feeding program cooked by the Moms. Principal Luz Mayo Roxas says, “The community of Angub Elementary School is very happy for the gifts they continue to receive. Although many outside groups have departed the rebuilding effort, AAI’s programs have become stronger. This summer, there will be a group of parents to help our school to make it clean and to prepare a 3.6 hectare vegetable garden. They have started planting. They are cooperative and happy to serve. Thank you very much GlobalGiving for the great help you've extended. Your donor supporters should know that their kindness is a great motivator.”

On behalf of those who have benefitted and from the many incredible lessons we have learned about “doing more with less,” AAI staff who hail from Thailand, China, Japan, Connecticut and Virginia have found the way through shared commitment to assisting others, even 10,000 miles away. In the words of one of our staff volunteers, “We all have our dreams of how the world should be. Life can be unfair at times, but when people extend that one more step that can lead to success for the common good, the distance to achieving our ideals doesn’t seem that long.”

outdoor kitchen at Catig lacadon Elementary
outdoor kitchen at Catig lacadon Elementary
Home cooking by Moms at Catig Lacadon Elementary
Home cooking by Moms at Catig Lacadon Elementary
Second helping for growing children of fresh soup
Second helping for growing children of fresh soup
Eating in Class at Angub Elementary
Eating in Class at Angub Elementary

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Organization Information

Asia America Initiative

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.asiaamerica.org/​
Project Leader:
Albert Santoli
Washington, DC United States
$68,367 raised of $80,000 goal
 
462 donations
$11,633 to go
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