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“We are invincible!” – the ongoing story of Typhoon Haiyan

 This image shows Norlyn Caneso, a Disabled Persons' Organisation member, who stayed at the tent relocation centre waiting for a wheelchair to become available for him.

Almost three months ago Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013 - one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land. It left nothing but devastation, hopelessness and innumerable sad fates:

14.5 million people affected
4.1 million people displaced
1.1 million damaged houses
6,201 people reported dead
1,785 people still missing


So far cbm has distributed food and non-food items twice to 3,000 households in Concepcion (18,000 people) and once to 883 households in Estancia (5,300 people). The distribution included at least 1,730 families with persons with disabilities in Concepcion and 795 of those in Estancia. Other vulnerable families who received our aid include single-headed households, single women and elderly people.

Despite their trials the Filipinos still smile. Nurse Jamela’s attitude is a very good example. She is a new employee of cbm’s local partner, Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo (ADPI), as a community organier at the Estancia (Iloilo) Age and Disability Focal Point.

We are Filipinos and by that it means we are invincible. We are unshakeable no matter what challenge we face”, Jamela says. In her role she will be assessing the needs of the most vulnerable groups in Jamelathe community, including persons with disabilities like Norlyn Caneso (pictured above). This will help them identify their strengths, improve their skills and eventually find work and therefore a livelihood. The ‘focal points’ will link people with disabilities and older people with mainstream opportunities providing food, shelter and livelihood opportunities, and also with specialist opportunities, e.g. creating access to assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, prostheses, spectacles and to eye, ear, orthopaedic and mental health intervention.

cbm’s Emergency Response Team is still on the ground and ensures that reconstruction efforts are inclusive. We focus on “building back better”, accessibility is considered and people with disabilities are active players in making their community more resilient.

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