From Relief to Recovery

A lot of positive work has been done. There's a long way to go. Over the past week I have tagged along with LWR staff in the Philippines to continue our work helping people recover from Typhoon Haiyan, which hit this island nation just over a month ago.
This week I traveled around three of the islands hit hardest by the typhoon: Leyte, Cebu and Bantayan. I've seen a lot and talked to many people. And one thing is fairly consistently clear: we've moved from the relief phase of the disaster to an early recovery phase.

a smiling boy
A smile on Bantayan Island

What's the difference between relief and recovery?

Relief is what is needed in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. People need the basic elements that support life: food, water and (temporary) shelter. As I have hopped from community to community, with a few exceptions, it's pretty clear that people have those basic things.

Recovery, on the other hand, is the slower process of getting people back to beyond their pre-typhoon lives. It's the concept of "build back better." And while that concept can be fiercely debated in terms of the details, nobody wants to see the same amount of devastation when the next storm hits.

What does recovery look like?

It depends on the need. The needs here are much different than the needs were after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, for example. And as we've talked to different communities, we've seen that the needs vary from community to community.

In some areas, we're working with Habitat for Humanity to distribute shelter repair kits. These kits contain building materials that help people repair or rebuild their homes, using better techniques to prepare for the next storm. Delia Moreno has already completed her home. When we saw her two days ago, she had just spent her first night in the home and was overjoyed to not need to sleep under a table anymore.

family standing outside new shelter
A neighbor family of Delia Moreno's shows off the new shelter they have build with Shelter Repair Kits

In other areas, people's main issue is that they've lost their means of making an income. There we are doing one of two things. In some places, we are providing cash to people who help with debris removal (cash for work). This not only helps clear land that could be used for housing or agriculture, but gives people a shot of extra income. And in other areas where the debris has already largely been cleared, we are doing simple cash transfers so that people can buy the things they need to recover.

These programs are just the beginning in the long line of recovery. Soon LWR Quilts & Kits will arrive here in the Philippines, bringing additional comfort and joy to recovering families.

Thanks to you, there is lasting hope during this Advent season. We wait actively for Christ's birth and work fervently to be signs of that hope to others.