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One year on, it's only tears of happiness

This Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the day when Typhoon Haiyan hit land in the Philippines and left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Ahead of the anniversary, Emergency Programme Support Officer Anna visited some of the worst hit areas and saw the amazing rebirth and rebuilding that has taken place in the past year.

By Anna Zuegner, Emergency Programme Support Officer

One year ago on the 8 November 2014, typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and affected the lives of more than fourteen million people. The needs were great. More than six thousand people lost their lives, more than four million people were displaced and over a million homes were destroyed. People were not only faced with the loss of loved ones and their homes, but many also found that their livelihoods had been taken from them, whether in the form of coconut trees, fishing boats or the animals that had provided their main source of income.

World Vision was one of the first aid agencies on the ground last year, and we have so far been able to reach more than 760,000 survivors with food, soap, toothbrushes, shelter, cash for work programmes and livelihoods training, amongst other activities.

None of this would have been possible without your help. One year on, we want to take the opportunity to remember not only the people who were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, but to also thank all our supporters across the UK who were so giving last year.

During our visit to the Philippines, my colleague Susannah and I were able to meet just a few of the survivors who have benefited from your help and whose lives have been changed for the better.

After Haiyan, Joy’s village did not have electricity for four months. World Vision has been able to provide Joy with a new home and a solar panel that produces electricity. “I am so very happy and thankful that World Vision helped me,” Joy says as her eyes fill with tears of happiness.

In Estancia, we met Joy. She was evacuated to a nearby school during the storm surge where she stayed for a month. When she was finally able to come home, she found her house in pieces. Not only had the typhoon destroyed her house, it had also destroyed her sewing machine, which provided her family with their main source of income. A widow, Joy depended on her sewing earnings to look after her disabled son.

More than 95% of the houses have been destroyed in her district, and Joy’s village did not have electricity for four months. World Vision has been able to provide Joy with a new home and a solar panel that produces electricity. “I am so very happy and thankful that World Vision helped me,” Joy says as her eyes fill with tears of happiness.

Suen shares a similar story. She was evacuated to the nearby school with her four children when the typhoon hit. During the storm, Suen lost her house and her little store where she earned an income for her family. In the aftermath of Haiyan, Suen participated in cash for work activities organised by World Vision, and was able to support her family right after the storm. She also received a new house which is even “more beautiful and more stable” than her previous house, she says with a proud smile.

Suen was evacuated to the nearby school with her four children when the typhoon hit. During the storm, Suen lost her house and her little store where she earned an income for her family. In the aftermath of Haiyan, Suen participated in cash for work activities organised by World Vision, and was able to support her family right after the storm. She also received a new house which is even “more beautiful and more stable” than her previous house, she says with a proud smile.

Like most areas, the municipality of Batan was heavily affected last year. The storm surge destroyed most of the boats used for fishing, and houses and pathways were swept away. We meet with Pat, one of the village council members, to talk about the time after the typhoon. Struggling with tears, he told us that many people lost their houses and their livelihoods after Haiyan and the community did not have access to electricity for months. “But since then lives have improved,” he says, “because of World Vision. World Vision was able to help with solar lights which provided people with light during this dark time. World Vision is also constructing a water system that will provide the school with safe drinking water.”

During the response, World Vision trained carpenters and provided them with tool kits. They were then able to rebuild their community themselves, and to earn an income for their families at the same time.

In Batan a huge crowd of people welcomed us. Instead of the four beneficiaries that we were expecting, we were welcomed by what seemed like the entire village. Everyone who had received aid in the past year wanted to meet us to show their thanks. It was an incredibly moving moment with lots of handshakes, hugs and happy tears.

In Batan we also met survivors who wanted to talk about their experience with World Vision. When we arrived in the village, a huge crowd of people welcomed us. Instead of the four beneficiaries that we were expecting, we were welcomed by what seemed like the entire village. Everyone who had received aid in the past year wanted to meet us to show their thanks. It was an incredibly moving moment with lots of handshakes, hugs and happy tears.

All of the survivors we met are utterly thankful and I would like to pass these “thank yous” on to you. World Vision would have not done all of this without your help and your generosity. On behalf of the children, families and communities that you’ve helped, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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