One of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, Haiyan left a trail of destruction, killing over 6,300 people. In addition to the enormous loss of life, thousands more lost their homes, livelihoods, and everything they owned. Haiyan displaced over four million people.

After hearing about the need, individuals, families, churches, businesses, governments, and other humanitarian organizations across North America and Europe donated generously to support World Renew’s work.

“I am continually amazed by the generosity of World Renew supporters,” says Ken Kim, World Renew’s Director of Disaster Response. “Five years after Typhoon Haiyan, our local team continues to help families recover because of the generous support of many people. It is a blessing to know that Christ’s call to seek justice and love mercy is lived out faithfully by you, our supporters. This is your ministry.”

Over the last five years, World Renew has been able to provide US $8.2 million in humanitarian assistance to 107,742 people. Every dollar donated by individuals, businesses and churches has been leveraged to have an impact nearly 3 times greater. 

Throughout this time, the response has evolved. Within days after Haiyan struck the Philippines, World Renew worked with local churches to provide families with emergency assistance to get through the most difficult first few months. As families began to look forward, the focus shifted to the long-term. Through rebuilding homes and latrines, World Renew made sure that families had a safe and secure place to live.

Since 2015, World Renew has again shifted focus towards economic growth for communities affected by Haiyan. With generous funding from the Canadian government, World Renew has been able to help families improve their livelihoods, increase their household incomes, and be better prepared and more resilient in the case of future disasters.

Empowering Women Changes Communities

In the five years since Typhoon Haiyan, incredible transformation has taken place in dozens of communities. For six mothers living in a remote village on the island of Panay, World Renew’s work has been life-changing.

At two o’clock in the morning, these mothers begin their day. As their neighbors continue to sleep, they traverse the rocky foot trail, guided by flashlight, walking to their newly constructed bakery. Each morning the women work tirelessly to bake bread – the lifeblood of their new business.

“We need to start very early because at five o’clock in the morning, people will start asking for hot bread. Going here [to the bakery] from our house is difficult, and especially slippery during rainy season, but I am used to it now,” shares Cleofe Tasoy, one of the women who runs this small business. Cleofe and five other women in her community started their own pie and bread business with the support of World Renew.

Before Haiyan, these women were weaving mats to earn income to supplement what their husbands earned as fishermen. However, Haiyan destroyed their husband’s boats and fishing gear, their houses, and even the material they used to weave mats.

World Renew has walked alongside Cleofe’s community in these years, helping her family and hundreds of others as they recover from the devastation caused by Haiyan. “We are thankful that World Renew came,” she says. “They provided us with strong and typhoon- resilient houses, boat and fishing gear for our husbands, and even training for the mothers different in livelihood activities.”

While World Renew equipped the women with baking skills, business knowledge, and capital to begin their bakery, it was the entrepreneurial spirit of these six mothers that set them on their journey to success. They dream of growing their business large enough that one day they can sell their bread on neighboring islands as well.

“When we first divided our income, I was so happy to receive 1,038 pesos (US $20),” expresses Mylin Arellado, one of the other women who own the bakery. “That is so special because I was able to buy new clothes for my two children for their school activities.”

These mothers represent one of many women’s groups that World Renew is helping to become entrepreneurs. As women are empowered to earn their own income, entire families are better off. Additional sources of income mean that families are not entirely dependent on the husband’s income, which is often seasonal, but that they have a source of income all year round and can afford to send their children to school.

The program, funded by Global Affairs Canada through World Renew, is helping over 8,000 people, like Cloefe and Mylin, as they continue their journey of recovery after Typhoon Haiyan. The transformation that these communities have experienced is a testament to the resilience and strength of families in the Philippines after this disaster.

World Renew is thankful for the generous support of individuals, families, businesses, and organizations who have made this work possible. Special thanks to the Board of Special Needs (the Reformed Church of the Netherlands), Presbyterian World Service & Development, and Canadian Lutheran World Relief for supporting this response.

Thank you for continuing to pray for the people of the Philippines, particularly for the families affected by Typhoon Mangkhut, which struck the island of Luzon two months ago.