On October 16, 2019, a very strong earthquake struck the Davao del Sur province in the south of the Mindanao island in the Philippines, displacing thousands of people. After months of living in tents, the “Cash for Work”-project of ACT-member World Renew improved the lives of many highly vulnerable persons like Albert Cruz (not his real name) – through their own efforts.
“We were deeply distressed because of the earthquake. Many became sick and were brought to the hospital. We became desperate because we were running out of food, water and other essential supplies and most of all we had no money”, tells Albert, the captain of an indigenous barangay (village) in Davao del Sur which was hit hard by the earthquake.
After the disaster, the families living in the community were temporarily sheltered in the nearest school and evacuation centers of the adjacent barangays because of a high risk of landslides. It was a challenge for them to live in tents in the ensuing months. The community members had no source of income despite the emerging needs, as the government was overloaded financially because of the compounding challenges including African Swine Fever (ASF) and COVID-19.
World Renew’s response in the area was planned to start in March 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team from Panay island was finally able to reach those families affected in October 2020. The organisation started their Cash for Work Project in the area in close coordination and cooperation with the local authorities, verifying what barangays were the most affected and still in need of assistance.
Life improved in several ways
Albert says: “World Renew came to our community in God’s perfect time. Some hoped that they would provide financial assistance, some hoped for livelihood projects and others just required hygiene kits. Through the Cash for Work (CFW) project, roads are now accessible, and we are able to bring our products to the market. CFW provided us cash to purchase our needs such as food and medicines. Unpleasant odors from our trash were eliminated after the materials recovery facilities were established within the evacuation camp through the Cash for Work project. Rainwater now flows in a canal and does not stay when there is a heavy downpour because we dredged canals. Pipes for water supply were installed from the source to the evacuation camp, making the life of the women in the village better. Women and children don’t need to walk four kilometers to wash clothes and take a bath anymore because there is water in the evacuation camp now. What we have learned from working with World Renew during the Cash for Work Project is to always do your best and implement the plan that was agreed upon. We thank them for the learnings and for taking the time to understand our culture and where we are coming from. We pray that God will send more blessings.”
Much achieved with community participation
After more than two months in these selected communities, World Renew’s projects were almost done in January 2021, with strong participation of the communities’ people. Besides the Cash for Work activities, the organisation distributed hygiene kits and COVID-19 awareness materials. The provision of livelihood inputs will be the next. When implementing all activities, the World Renew team always ensures that health protocols are followed, e.g., wearing of masks and face shields, and observing social distancing.
Photos: World Renew, Cash for Work project in Davao del Sur, Philippines