by Loren Hyatt
On November 8, Leonora Compuesta, a 38-year old mother of five, heard that Typhoon Haiyan was approaching the Philippines and that the storm might hit Cebu Province where she and her family live.
As the storm approached and Leonora realized how unusually strong it was, she instructed her children to take refuge in a neighbor’s house that was sturdier than their own. Leonora decided to stay behind to protect her house from any looters that might come by.
When the storm hit, the roof of Leonora’s home blew off. A tree crashed down. To protect herself, Leonora crouched under a plastic table in her house, cold and very afraid.
“I thought I was going to die. I kept thinking about my children. How I wish that I went with them instead. I kept praying that God would give me another chance to see them again. I became more afraid when I started thinking about their future if I were to die.”
As the winds calmed and the skies cleared, Leonora ran to her neighbor’s home and found her five children safe.
Unfortunately, Typhoon Haiyan severely damaged Leonora’s house. She and her children no longer have a place to take shelter from the rain or the heat of the sun. She cannot afford to repair her home, as her livelihood was also damaged by the typhoon.
Leonora sells dried fish, earning 100 pesos (approximately $2.30) on successful day of selling. With this income, Leonora buys food for her family, pays for children’s education expenses and buys other necessary household items. Even when business is good, however, Leonora finds it difficult to support the growing needs of her five children.
In the aftermath of the storm, Leonora’s customers can no longer afford to buy the dried fish she sells. To support their family, Leonora’s oldest child, Leonisa, migrated to the city of Cebu to work as a housekeeper. It is difficult for her family to be apart. “This is our first time being separated. I do not want her to go, but things are really difficult.”
“I just pray that I can have the means to repair our home. My income is not even enough for our daily needs and seeing our house like this makes me remember that horrific day.”
In response to the damage to Leonora’s home and more than one million other houses in the Philippines, LWR is making emergency shelter a priority. Working with a local partner, LWR initially plans to reach 5,000 households with shelter repair kits, which include plywood, lumber, corrugated sheets for roofing, nails, claw hammers and handsaws. Beginning on November 22, LWR will distribute its first round of kits to nearly 1,500 families, just like Leonora’s, in affected areas of northern Cebu.
Please consider giving to LWR to support our efforts to reach families like Leonora’s with shelter repair kits and other needed relief assistance. Read more about the situation in the Philippines and how LWR is responding.
LWR’s Project Officer for Emergency Response in the Philippines, Cathy Gordo, gathered this information and shared Leonora’s story following a recent assessment trip to typhoon-affected areas.