By Melanie Hargreaves, Press Officer, Christian Aid
5 December 2014 - I have just returned from the Philippines, where I was visiting communities I first met in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan last year.
Haiyan hit the country last November, forcing more than four million from their homes and leaving 6,000 dead.
Homes, schools and churches were flattened and roads were washed away, leaving people stranded and frightened.
Faces etched with grief
Just a week later, I travelled to affected areas with our response teams and local partner organisations. Although I had seen the television coverage, nothing could have prepared me for what I found.
The smell of death lingered under the debris and people’s faces were etched with grief. The sheer devastation was beyond anything I could have imagined.
Christian Aid and our local partners delivered essential goods, including rice, canned meat, drinking water and tarpaulin sheets, to affected communities.
These much-needed items were so gratefully received and even now, recipients remember how they helped them through the toughest of times.
A year on, I was thankful to see the landscape was again lush and green. Roads had been fixed, electricity was back up and running and people were smiling once again.
Generosity of supporters
Thanks to the generosity of supporters and the work of our partners, since Haiyan hit more than 100,000 people have benefited from cash assistance and support to rebuild their livelihoods, such as new fishing boats, nets, seeds and tools.
Yet many still live under temporary shelters and people I met explained how they continue to struggle to make ends meet.
With over 90 per cent of coconut trees destroyed – a staple income for many – it’ll be up to 10 years before they bear fruit once more.
Some fishermen are simply too afraid to go out in rough seas, fearful that another storm may hit.
Meanwhile, the amount of money they can earn from the sea has been severely limited because fish stocks have been depleted by two thirds.
And now these communities are facing yet another life-threatening storm.
Typhoon Hagupit is predicted to hit this Saturday, threatening the lives of those still reeling from the effects of last year’s super typhoon.
We and our local partners are on standby to reach those most in need, to ensure they are prepared, and have food supplies and clean water.
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk