Philippines: Cash-for-work programs revitalize typhoon-devastated communities

By Sarah Pate

SANTO DOMINGO, Philippines - For Herbie Aguas, mayor of the typhoon-devastated town of Santo Domingo, relief was just a prayer and a pickax away.

"We were hit by Typhoon Milenyo and now Durian," Aguas explained. "The only thing I can do is pray and ask for help. We don't have any more money."

Lack of funding is often a major hindrance for communities trying to recover and rebuild following a major disaster.

"Part of our disaster relief game plan is that we go into an area and ask the officials in charge what they need," said Operation Blessing President Bill Horan. "We don't show up and tell them what we're going to do, but rather we ask."

In the case of Mayor Aguas, the greatest need was to clean up his community. Typhoon Durian's high winds and heavy rains forced mass flooding and volcanic mudslides, or lahars, to inundate the town, leaving many of their roads impassible.

Operation Blessing responded by offering a cash-for-work program that employed 400 locals for one month to help clear roads, clean out ditches, canals and more.

"Cash for work provides a stimulus for the local economy...when jobs have been lost and lives turned upside down," Horan said. "It's an incredible way to help get a community back on their feet."

In addition to cash-for-work projects, OBI is still providing relief in the form of food and water, trauma counseling, boat construction and repair, medical missions and water wells.

To date, relief and recovery efforts have benefited nearly 100,000 typhoon victims.

How You Can Help

You can take part in helping typhoon victims by making an online donation, to help bring much-needed food, water, medical supplies, and more to those caught in the midst of disaster.