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100 Days of Haiyan

Concern Worldwide’s communications officer, Michaela Conine, returned to her native Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan as part of our emergency response team. Here, she reflects on her experience as an aid worker in her homeland.

Concern Worldwide's emergency relief operation to victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Igbon Bananguy, Conception, Panay, Philippines. Photographer: Steve de Neef/Decemeber/Philippines

Growing up and living in the Philippines most of my life, typhoons were not new to me. They torment us about 22 times a year, some worse than others, but somehow we’ve almost always managed to get by on our own. We are a resilient country, and usually well-prepared to take on natural disasters like storms and the occasional earthquake. No one and nothing could have prepared the Philippines for Haiyan.  

Rebuilding lives

Small-scale fishermen are among the poorest people in rural areas. Before Haiyan hit, most were already living day-to-day. With their boats now destroyed, they’re left with nothing. It is now our goal to get some 1,000 boats back on the water so they can start to earn a living again.

On the island of Igbon, we set out to validate some of the data we’d collected on damaged and missing boats. We started a programme to repair or replace small fishing boats damaged by the storm. About 60 percent of the country’s population lives by the sea, so fishing is a huge source of income and food for many communities.  

Generous spirit

After our work, a small group of women set out a plate of food for us. It was a very simple meal —scrambled eggs cooked with onion, tomato and rice. Smiling, they adamantly refused to let us move on without eating. Despite losing everything, these people still took great joy in being able to feed us. 

Back on its feet

Today, Concepcion bustles with activity. Everywhere you walk, you hear the sounds of hammers and saws. The markets are open. So are the schools. A hundred days after Typhoon Haiyan made its fifth landfall in this municipality and destroyed nearly everything in its path, the people of Concepcion are making great strides toward rebuilding their small town. Even with the progress, the scars of the typhoon will forever remain with the people who live here.