(From left). Tonyang, Julita, Gemma, and Roger now have growing businesses four years after Typhoon Yolanda.
The stalls of Roger, Tonyang, Gemma and Julita which are nestled at the heart of Tacloban City public market are stories of strength, generosity and accountability.
“After Yolanda, I received help from different people I don’t even know. I told myself I won’t put their money to waste,” shares 58-year old Roger. His then small fruit stand has grown to a sari-sari store.
Meanwhile, 47-yeal old Julita works hard to keep her business growing while caring for her sick husband and six children.
“There is always a temptation to close the store and sell it but this is not what I was taught during the training. Besides, this has kept us thriving since my husband fell ill.”
Gemma and Tonyang on the other hand, would not let the chance pass by. They were vendors before the monstrous typhoon happened. For three months after losing their homes and their stores, they sought shelter from the streets of Tacloban, unsure whether they could still recover from their losses or not.
“When we were given P10,000 to help us go back to vending, it was a chance we were determined to maximize,” adds Tonyang.
Today, almost four years after the storm, they have rebuilt their lives and are now back on their feet with flourishing businesses. Their stores allow them to earn at least P1,500 to P2,500 each week. Part of their income is used to diversify their products while the rest is for their families’ needs, including their children’s education.
“This is our way of saying thank you to those who helped us when we didn’t know how to start again,” adds Roger. Their businesses have also become a family affair. From 9 in the evening until 9 in the morning, Roger takes charge of the store. After his wife do all the household chores at home, she takes over, giving Roger the time to sleep.
Rising up together
Roger, Tonyang, Gemma and Julita are just four of the more than 3,300 people in Tacloban City who underwent entrepreneurship training and were given capital support. Across Leyte, World Vision has reached 114,981 people through its livelihood interventions including livestock distribution, skills training for employability and microenterprise, capital support and business start-up tool kits.
To better ensure sustainability, World Vision tapped not just government agencies but also community leaders to help mobilize people and monitor the project’s progress.
“We are neighbours and Roger is our purok leader. He would always remind us to take care of what we received and to multiply it,” Julita smiles. When asked whether they fight for customers, they smile.
“Aside from family, we are each other’s support system,” shares Gemma. During the interview, a customer came in. Immediately, Tonyang went to Gemma’s stall to assist.
“World Vision’s partnership with us throughout its program allowed us to be responsible for each other and to everything that was given to our community,” adds Roger. Aside from livelihood, World Vision also helped build and repair 14 school playgrounds and 25 classrooms in Tacloban, catering to more than 14,000 children. To build the community’s resilience against disasters, 32,000 individuals in 17 barangays went through disaster risk reduction training, community drills and preparedness activities. More than 500 solar street lamps were also installed in the communities.
“The street solar lamps were particularly helpful to us when the earthquake happened last July. We had no electricity for several days but we went on with our businesses because of the street lights. I’m glad that we, as a community, took care of these things. We are able to mximize them in times of need,” shares Gemma.
To date, World Vision has reached more than 1.6 million people through its different interventions from the emergency to recovery phase.—World Vision/August 16, 2017