Thursday, December 02, 2021

More than aid, jobs for locals

IN areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda, the arrival of aid workers was eagerly anticipated.

Hundreds of families reeling from the effects of the typhoon saw the non-government organizations and humanitarian aid groups as bearer of gifts—from food, water, clothing and housing materials.

The sight of trucks making their way into town with relief goods had survivors running to the streets to get their next meal for the day.

But Nick Brown and his group didn’t only bring food. They also gave jobs and hope to residents of Bantayan Island who felt that they had lost everything.

The Young Pioneer Disaster Response (YPDR) brought in some 200 volunteers and $800,000 worth of donations in cash and in kind, which allowed them to build 907 houses in Bantayan Island alone.

They also hired 100 workers to build the houses—all of them from the community they committed to serve and most of them the beneficiaries of the housing project.

“None of our foreign volunteers are paid or given allowances or honorarium. Those we paid are all locals so that 98 percent of the money we brought in goes to the community. All materials we used were purchased from local businessmen,” Brown, the executive director of YPDR, told Sun.Star Cebu.

The other two percent, he added, covered the fees for the visas of its foreign volunteers coming from 30 countries.

“We don’t agree with hiring from outside Bantayan when there are skilled people within the disaster zone who need the assistance and the job more,” Brown said.

Training, too

Some workers were hired for a period of six weeks, while some continue to work at present.

Skilled workers were paid P332 a day, while the unskilled workers were given P282, a much needed income for families who lost their houses and livelihood.

Those who have no carpentry skills were trained by YPDR.

YPDR is an international organization formed specifically to respond to calls for help in northern Cebu after Yolanda, particularly in Bantayan Island.

It raised funds from individual and corporate donors, mostly through the crowd-funding site Indiegogo Inc.

Aside from building houses, YPDR also constructed three-classroom buildings in a high school in Sta. Fe. It also implemented programs related to water sanitation, hygiene, livelihood and marine life restoration. 

Some 30 disaster experts, field workers, social workers, administration staff and project staff were also hired by World Vision International during the relief operations and recovery phase in Cebu.

The organization poured $1.4 million for its emergency operations in northern Cebu alone, and another $1.4 million for the recovery phase, World Vision Philippines communications manager Cecil Laguardia said.

Local hires

The amount covers the salaries and benefits of their workers, who were hired and come from different areas where World Vision operates, including Cebu.

Workers and volunteers of World Vision, an Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid and development organization, assisted some 2,000 families through different recovery work. Its workers built 99 houses for families who were identified as most vulnerable, and provided 1,901 other families with shelter kits.

It also distributed food, water and sanitation and hygiene kits to affected residents immediately after Yolanda made landfall last year. World Vision also set up and manned child-friendly spaces and areas where mothers and infants can stay.

Another humanitarian aid group that enlisted volunteers locally is the Philippine National Red Cross, which still has about 68 workers and volunteers in northern Cebu for the rehabilitation phase.

Red Cross volunteers are training residents on disaster preparedness and emergency response, while some are helping rebuild houses there.
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