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.”