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Brothers in Philippines lose home in typhoon

Updated November 22, 2013

This story was published in 2013 when we were known as CFCA. In January 2014, we changed our name to Unbound. Check this section of our website often for stories about the families we serve around the world and the news that impacts them.

This story shows just some of the work done by CFCA in 2013. In the future, as Unbound, this organization will continue to keep you updated about events affecting the people we serve together in 21 countries around the world.

MANILA, Philippines — For brothers Cyrus and James, all that's left of their family's home is a pile of rubble after Super Typhoon Haiyan slashed through their community in the Philippines.

Brothers in the Philippines
From left: James and his brother Cyrus stand outside the remains of their
home.

The family rode the storm out in their neighbor's house.

"We keep on praying," Cyrus recalled. "And we are afraid to get out because some trees are falling and it would be dangerous for us to go outside."

Cyrus and James are sponsored through CFCA in Kalibo, the capital of the Aklan province in the hard-hit Central Visayas region.

When the family emerged from their neighbor's house, they found a mango tree had toppled onto their house and their things were scattered. They tried to recover some of the items most important to them.

"After the typhoon, we fix some of our things, my mother washes our clothes and my father builds a temporary shelter for us," Cyrus said. "We really assign ourselves to different tasks for us to be able to finish it in a day."

Cyrus is studying for a bachelor’s in industrial technology at Aklan State University in Kalibo, and James is in seventh grade. They have six siblings.

Besides their home being lost, their parents' livelihood also has been affected. Their crops have been devastated, and a source of income, coconut trees, fell in the storm.

Still, they remain hopeful. CFCA sponsorship will continue to give support for their education and for the family as they rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

Typhoon Yolanda
This map shows the location of Kalibo (center) in relation to Manila,
to the north, and Tacloban, to the southeast.

"Thank you, Lord, that I have been part of CFCA because it is really a big help for me in terms of my studies," James said. "I will really study well so that I could be able to help my brothers and my family as well."

The family is one of 719 in the CFCA program in three Aklan towns, Makato, Tangalan and Madalag. Of the CFCA families in Aklan, 147 saw their homes destroyed and 422 have damaged houses.

The damages left 187 families homeless. The families are living temporarily in tents or shelters provided by the organization ShelterBox International.

CFCA will provide funds for rebuilding, repairs and livelihood recovery through a special grant made possible by donations to the Disaster Assistance Fund.

Rebuilding will be a big task.

"The question in mind now," said Risa Verena, CFCA Manila project coordinator, "is where they can get their survival after [the typhoon], since all the crops that were damaged will take long to recover and bear fruits again.

"Even the nipa, palm and bamboo, which are the common source of housing materials of our humble families in Aklan, were all destroyed."

Communication lines in Aklan were still down, said Tristan John Cabrera, CFCA communications liaison for the Philippines who visited the area. Electricity may not be restored for another three months.

Typhoon Yolanda
The family stands in front of the rubble of their home after Super
Typhoon Haiyan.

Grocery stores, banks, gas stations and other businesses remained closed.

"The first thing that I noticed from the airplane going down at the airport of Aklan was the dark surroundings because of the shutdown of all electrical supply in the province, from establishments to houses," Cabrera said.

Aklan is about 283 miles southeast of Manila and 193 miles west of the province of Leyte, where the devastated city of Tacloban is located.

The Aklan area was under the highest storm warning when the typhoon hit.

Four hours south in Iloilo, CFCA families in the town of San Joaquin fared better because some of the houses are made of cinder blocks or stone, Cabrera said.

CFCA works with more than 900 families in the province, which is in the Western Visayas region.

Still, the impact in some areas was significant. Iloilo is served by CFCA's Antipolo project.

"In Iloilo, you could see the long range of crops and trees in the mountains really cut and dropped down," Cabrera said. "You could also notice the direction of the wind because all trees are leaning left."

Typhoon Yolanda
Another view of damages from the typhoon.

CFCA dads who are part of the Antipolo project’s ERPAT fathers group will provide labor for rebuilding efforts in Iloilo. The cost of materials will be covered by a CFCA grant.

ERPAT stands for Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities. The group is coordinating with the local government to assist families who are staying in evacuation centers, reported Malou Navio, Antipolo project coordinator.

Farmers in Iloilo lost crops and fishermen lost equipment. CFCA will provide financial help to recover their livelihoods.

In CFCA’s Legazpi project in the Bicol region, north of the most devastated areas, 16 families saw their homes destroyed in the typhoon while 135 families experienced damage to their houses. Crop losses affected 36 families.

Families were living in temporary shelters or staying with relatives, said Gari Olavario, Legazpi project coordinator. The project works with families living in coastal areas, and most of the damage resulted from the storm surge, Olavario said.

A CFCA grant will provide financial help for rebuilding, repairs and crop losses.

Despite everything facing them as they rebuild, Filipinos remain hopeful.

"We encountered a lot of challenges in our lives," Cyrus said, "but I believe because of our hard work and love for each other we could work as one and be able to recover."

CFCA offers ways to help through the Disaster Assistance Fund and by sponsoring a child in the Philippines.

Donate to the disaster assistance fund

Disaster assistance

Help address the needs of sponsored members and their families following natural disasters and other emergencies. Donations support relief and recovery efforts following earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, fires, floods and mudslides. Funds are used where they are most needed, as determined by Unbound and project staff. Learn more »
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