And it’s been four years since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. This storm was so strong and unexpected that families were not adequately prepared. Life changed for thousands of families in the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Yet over these past four years, incredible transformation has taken place.

And it’s been four years since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. This storm was so strong and unexpected that families were not adequately prepared. Life changed for thousands of families in the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Yet over these past four years, incredible transformation has taken place.

In the same time that many around the world have completed university educations, families in the Philippines have been hard at work putting the pieces of their life back together. Many have grieved the loss of loved ones, rebuilt their homes, and are now dedicating themselves to returning to work or school.

Maritess’ Story

Living in a village on a small island, Maritess Ecat (pictured above), a mother of three, helps to support her family by running a small convenience store (known in the Philippines as a sari-sari). Her husband, Fred, works hard as a utility worker in Manila, and together they are able to make sure their children can pursue their dreams of getting an education.

But when Haiyan struck their village four years ago, they lost everything. Their home was damaged, the convenience store was completely destroyed, and their future became incredibly uncertain. In spite of this, Maritess’ two children did not lose sight of their dreams. Even with nothing, they wanted to continue going to school. Maritess and Fred knew that they would do anything to make sure their children got the education they dreamed about.

But with the convenience store completely destroyed, this family was only just barely making ends meet.  Randel, their second child, decided that he would stop going to school so that his older sister, Marie, could attend university. He promised to go back to school once she had finished. Even with Randel’s sacrifice, this was a difficult time for his family.

World Renew has worked with many women who are small-business owners, like Maritess, to get back on their feet and earn an income again. First, World Renew helped to teach Maritess about financial management and marketing, so that she would be able to better run her store. Then, Maritess was given cash so that she could restock her store with the most important products. By giving Maritess the resources she needed to be successful, she has been empowered to make a difference in her own life and the life of her family.

With renewed energy, Maritess jumped back into work and was quickly earning an even higher income than before Haiyan. With this new source of money, Maritess and Fred were able to pay for their daughter’s education

Four years after Haiyan, Marie is now a proud university graduate with a job in Manila as a management trainee in one of the largest malls in the country. Marie knows that if it was not for the sacrifice of her family, she would not have reached her dream of being the first in her family to get a university education. And this might not have been possible without the support that World Renew provided Maritess to get her convenience store running again.

Today, Randel has fulfilled his promise to go back to school. Every day he goes to school and is determined that he will finish university, just like his older sister.

Over the last four years, the dreams of a family have been realized. When trouble hit, they did not give up. Because of the sacrifice and dedication of loving parents, and the support of World Renew, Marie and Randel followed their dreams and their future shines brightly.

Wilma’s Story

Many families in the Philippines depend on farming to survive, but Typhoon Haiyan destroyed countless crops. In the four years since Haiyan, World Renew has worked closely with these farming families to help them not only recover, but to be in a better position than they were before.

Wilma lost most of what she owned when Haiyan struck her community. The first year was a challenge for her, but with hard work she was able to begin the journey of recovery. Today, she continues along this journey and, through support from World Renew, is part of a successful farming cooperative.

Wilma and other farmers in her community are part of a group called the “Loong Farmers Association” (LOFA). Through World Renew, this group has received supplies and training and is engaged in a successful demo farm. Initially, Wilma and others received seeds to plant new crops.

But World Renew’s assistance goes beyond only providing seeds. Farmers are also learning techniques to increase soil biodiversity, prevent soil erosion using sloping technologies, and to grow and use their own organic feeds, fertilizers and pesticides. The results are clear – crops are growing well, and this community group is thriving. They are growing new vegetables and fruits, and raising hogs, ducks, chickens and goats using integrated farming practices.  Every day, the farmers also harvest nearly 60 eggs from their ducks.

On top of this, the farmers of LOFA also received support from World Renew to run a mobile rice mill so that their neighbors do not have to travel far to mill their rice. This mobile mill is not only helping those in Wilma’s community, but is also a benefit for those in neighboring communities.

As the success of this group becomes known throughout the community, they hope that others will continue to learn, just as they have learned. And as the lessons are passed on, an entire community has the opportunity to take an important step forward out of poverty.

“We would like to thank God for all the blessings and for using World Renew to make our lives better and more productive,” Wilma shared. “Now we can secure the future of our children. Thank you so much.”

Community members are also learning about how to take raw products and process them to create new products that can be sold at a higher cost. For example, women and men now sell products made from bananas, seaweed and meat or fish, including shrimp chips.

Women who were part of trainings about how to take raw food products and process them

Another example of transformation is the savings groups that community members are participating in, known as Community Managed Savings and Credit Associations (CoMSCA). Through these groups, members are encouraged to use their savings to expand their livelihoods or pay for education. By taking ownership of the savings groups themselves, they are ensuring that these practices will continue long after World Renew’s projects are done. To date, over 800 members have saved nearly $100,000.

These projects, and many others like them, are helping over 8,000 people who, like Maritess and Wilma, lost much of what they owned because of Typhoon Haiyan. By helping local fisherfolk, farmers and small business owners, with a specific focus on empowering women, World Renew is helping to transform communities in the aftermath of such a deadly storm.

This project is possible because of the support of Global Affairs Canada, and churches, individuals and businesses across North America. And a special thanks to the Board of Special Needs from the Reformed Church of the Netherlands, Presbyterian World Service & Development, and Canadian Lutheran World Relief for each supporting this response. Thank you for your continued prayers and partnership for those in the Philippines who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan four years ago