Agnes Morados gets emotional when she talks about rain. And it’s easy to see why. In Paglaum—her small village in the Philippines—rain wreaks havoc on a regular basis: flooding homes, cutting off road access, and even causing health problems.
But thanks to the Red Cross, things in Paglaum—and in Agnes’s daily life—have changed for the better. Teams are dredging and widening the local canal, which has already decreased flooding. Construction workers are laying the groundwork for retaining walls to prevent future flooding and erosion.
“I’m deeply thankful for the drainage work the Red Cross is doing in our community. Our houses used to flood and they don’t now. I’m crying because it’s a great help not just to me, but to the whole community,” remarks Agnes.
Paglaum has seen its fair share of rain. When Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) struck in 2013, most of the houses were damaged or destroyed. The Red Cross has helped families to rebuild from the storm—funding shelter improvements, water & sanitation interventions, health outreach, and more.
The improvements aren’t simply bandages. Instead, they’re investments in Paglaum’s future.
Agnes’s house—built with funds, training, and materials from the American Red Cross—is better able to withstand future storms. Its concrete foundation is sturdy and its roof: a far cry from the coconut leaf one she lost to Typhoon Haiyan. Her income was bolstered by a Red Cross gift of vegetable seeds, fertilizers, and garden tools. And the training she received about health, water & sanitation, and disaster risk reduction gives her confidence in the face of future storms.
“We are more aware of our safety because of the Red Cross,” says Agnes, who decided to become a volunteer herself. She has gone door-to-door donning with the Red Cross emblem, alerting her neighbors of health threats and educating them on how to avoid disease—like mosquito- and water-borne illnesses.
For families like Agnes’s, Red Cross aid provides more than physical improvements. It provides peace of mind. When asked what the most important thing she has received, Agnes remarks, “Thanks to the Red Cross, I feel safer now than I did before.”
American Red Cross work in the Philippines
When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, it claimed more than 6,000 lives in the island nation and damaged homes, bridges, schools, agricultural land, and businesses in its wake.
The American public donated generously to provide emergency aid to families affected by the storm, which enabled the global Red Cross Red Crescent network to provide aid such as food, blankets, emergency shelter materials, hygiene items, cash grants, and mosquito nets.
Thanks to the donations we received in the storm’s aftermath, the American Red Cross has been able to help survivors far past the emergency phase—to ensure that they are recovering from the crisis and building back safer, healthier, and better prepared for future disasters. This includes constructing water systems and community centers, gifting seed money to entrepreneurs, providing funds to help more than 14,000 families reconstruct or repair their homes, and much more. See info at redcross.org/Haiyan.
A rich history—and future!
The American Red Cross has a long and rich history of working with the Philippine Red Cross. In fact, the Philippine Red Cross was a chapter of the American Red Cross from 1905 until the country’s independence in 1946. When it became an independent Red Cross national society in 1947, we supported the young organization—turning over all Red Cross assets in the Philippines, sending technical advisors and providing funding to help it become firmly established. Since then, the American Red Cross has remained a loyal advocate and partner, sending financial and material resources, technical assistance and/or facilitating exchange visits on a regular basis. Even outside of Typhoon Haiyan recovery, the Philippines continues to be a focus of American Red Cross support.