The path to recovery and resilience

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

AFTER more than eight months since super typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in most parts of Eastern Visayas particularly in Samar and Leyte, the recovery and rehabilitation there has picked up pace.

The pace of the recovery, however, may be attributed not to the local government as they too have fell victims to the disaster. It has been the assistance from civil society organizations, foreign partners, local government units (LGUs) from other parts of the country and private companies that have accelerated the rehabilitation in the area.

But while it has been a concerted effort from the different private companies, foreigners and LGUs, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have taken a step forward in helping out some of the affected communities.

The Center for Agriculture and Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) and its members have become the face of resiliency in the affected areas. Last June 10 to 12, CARD MRI launched the Dugtong-Buhay Project: Disaster Management Forum and Caravan.

The project highlighted the series of forums, seminars and dialogues among the CARD MRI staff and members. The first day of the caravan highlighted the livelihood training program at Barangay Cogon in Palo, Leyte where close to a hundred mothers were taught how to handcraft accessories and ornaments.

CARD MRI director for community development and head of disaster management Marilyn Manila told Sun.Star Davao in an interview that the materials used in crafting bracelets, necklaces and other ornaments are mostly recycled while some are salvaged from the debris after the typhoon, thus providing low-cost investments for the members.

Some of the members were taught how to make bracelets, anklets and necklaces out of sea shells that were washed ashore during the storm surge while others were also taught how to make bags, hats, fans and other materials using abaca weavings.

Becky Artacho, one of the members who took part in the training said, “Nung nawala ang aking mister sa bagyo parang nawalan ako ng pagasa dahil siya lang ang kumakayod para sa aming pamilya. Pero nagkaroon ako ng pag-asa matapos kaming maturuan kung pano ang gumawa nga mga accessories na to. Kahit papano naman nakakatulong na man ang kita namin dito at pasalamat na din kami at tinutulungan kami ng CARD para mabenta an gaming mga ginawang mga pulseras.”

A testament of how CARD MRI has assisted in marketing the products of its members is through the Likha ni Inay Fashion Show and the product exhibit at the Leyte Normal University on June 12 where models took the catwalk donning the accessories created by the CARD MRI members while products of CARD MRI members and its partners MFIs ASA Philippines Foundation and Taytay sa Kauswagan, Inc. (TSKI) were put on sale.

Another aid in the livelihood of the affected members is through the Luntiang Bukid and Kawayanan ni Inay project in Basey, Samar where mothers were trained how to develop backyard farming. CARD MRI senior program manager Clarissa Dimaculangan, in an interview, said they already have over a hundred mothers who were taught how to cultivate vegetables which include bitter gourd, squash, eggplant, okra, string beans and pechay. They were also trained how to grow and maintain bamboo which could be used as material for building homes and other structures.

“Marami pa kaming pwedeng mashare na mga methods and new technologies para ma-improve ang farming ng mga members namin dito and in fact, hindi pa namin na-introduce ang pagalaga ng livestock and poultry. Patuloy ang training and monitoring namin sa kanilang mga farms para in the long run maging sustainable na sila,” Dimaculangan said.

Ann Jeanette Bacayao, a mother of three and also a member of CARD who has started her own backyard farm, said: “Di pa kami nakakaharvest pero sa dami ng pananim namin at sa tulong ng CARD MRI, di lang kami magkakaroon ng kita, meron din kaming pwedeng ma-konsumo na pagkain.”

Partner MFIs of CARD MRI including KMBI, ASKI, TSKI, ASA Philippines Foundation, SAMIC, Sathapana Limited, TAO Corporation, Pioneer Life, RIMANSI also took part in the vegetable planting activity.

Health has been also the primary concern of CARD MRI in its caravan thus, they launched the community health day in Basey where over a thousand CARD MRI members and non-members were given free medical checkup and medicines.

Manila said they usually spend around P200,000 to P350,000 in every community health day which could be broken down to the payment for the doctors, nurses and logistics expenses. Medicine, however, is not a problem said Manila as CARD MRI has its own pharmacy called the Boticard where members get discounts on regular days and have free medicines during community health days.

Lolita Abilgos, a member of CARD MRI for seven years, said during the dialogue with other MFIs that being a member of CARD MRI has helped her not only in sustaining her small sari-sari store as it has also assisted her in maintaining not only her health but her family as well.

“Nakakamura kami sa mga gamot dahil sa Boticard at nakakasave din kami sa serbisyo lalo na kung merong community health day. Meron akong tatlong anak pero di gaano naging problema ang health nila dahil kasama sa benefit ng CARD ang pagbigay ng discounts sa dependents ng members,” Abilgos said.

But for CARD MRI founder and managing director Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, the Dugtong-Buhay project is just a speck for the company’s drive for disaster-resiliency as they are intensifying their efforts to provide affordable insurance and educating their members on disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

“Our disaster management programs are not limited to our members hit by Typhoon Yolanda since we are also extending these programs to all 2.3 million members all over the country. We have been providing benefits to our members for years but that is not enough since disasters could come often and simple distribution of relief become very minimal when calamities like Yolanda happen.

That is why our drive is to insure all these members so that they could protect their assets and resources while giving them valuable inputs so that they could also handle disasters on their own,” Alip said.

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