Getting families back on their feet

Marites and her son in front of the new rice fields

Working as rice farmers is how Marites, 42, and her husband, Rene, 51, support their family of eight children – from the eldest at 18, down to the youngest, 2 year-old twins. They don't have their own farmland so they rent a parcel of land in exchange for 10 sacks of rice – almost half of their crop.

Then Typhoon Yolanda happened last November and Marites' family was among the hundreds of families badly affected in their area. During the typhoon, their home was washed away by the strong winds and rains. Left with no other place to go, she and her family are now living at her parents' house, close to where their home once stood.

Marites explains what happened: "We were at home when Typhoon Yolanda hit land. We were in the living room when a tree suddenly fell on top of our house. I am thankful that none of us got hurt. The roof was badly damaged by the fallen tree, so we fled to my mother's house. In the end, our house was completely damaged by the typhoon. So now, we're living with my mother and I am helping out in her small store."

Sadly, Marites' family also lost most of the rice crop they had harvested a few days before the typhoon. To survive after the typhoon, they've had to rely on the small supply of rice they had left, some relief items, and the small income Marites earns by working in her mother's small store.

She describes the dilemma she and her family faced: "Our family's main source of income is rice farming. Just a few days before the storm, we were able to harvest our crops. We used most of the crop to pay our debts to those who loaned us our starting capital. In all, we were only left with 12 sacks of rice in our storage. Unfortunately, all of them were soaked during Typhoon Yolanda so most of our stock was spoiled. We were only left with four sacks of damp—but useable—rice, and these served as our food supply for a month."

"If not for our stock of rice, I just don't know what else I could have fed my children after Typhoon Yolanda. It took several days before relief goods reached our community."

Starting anew after the typhoon was one of the major problems Marites and her family had to face and overcome as they had no money to pay for the next rice crop. Since their neighbours—including known creditors in their community—were struggling to recover from their own losses as well, no one was capable of offering them or others a loan that would enable them to buy rice seedlings.

This is where Save the Children came in with its livelihoods support for communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. On receiving a PhP3,700 cash grant from Save the Children, Marites immediately invested most of it on buying rice seedlings worth PhP1,100 per sack and fertilizer to restore their main source of income.

According to Marites, she used the money to restore their rice farming because their livelihood is the most reasonable option for investing the money in. Aside from re-establishing their main source of income as well as the source of their personal rice supply, this cash grant has spared them from borrowing money which costs extra because of the interest payments to the moneylender. It's getting them off to a good start in recovering from the typhoon.

"We used the money we received to buy rice seedlings and fertilizer. I wanted to invest the money in our livelihood because I figured that it is the most sustainable way of using it. We planted the seedlings in February and we're looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labor in May."

"This kind of assistance is really beneficial to people like us who are struggling to start from scratch. I am so excited that this time, we will finally be able to enjoy most of the earnings from our harvest. We no longer have to worry about losing most of our profits to loans and interest to our creditors."