On November 7, a massive typhoon devastated regions of the Philippines — including areas where Holt-funded childcare facilities operate. As the storm hit, staff at Holt’s office in Eugene, Oregon, anxiously waited to reestablish contact with our partners in the area. Communication lines were down, and the news reports of horrific damage and loss of life made staff fear the worst.
Our local partner agency, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), worked quickly to ensure the safety of children and families at our project sites during and after the storm. Holt staff in the U.S. sent out messages for prayer, and slowly received word, one by one, from each of our partnering childcare centers. Three days later, Holt established contact with the final project site in the Philippines, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. All of the children and families in Holt’s programs were safe.
Unfortunately, the destruction to facilities and supplies was very grave. Our partners were left without items like diapers, formula, lights and soap. Shortly after the storm, the executive director of KBF, Cherrie, travelled from KBF’s headquarters in Manila to the two cities with the most damage.
“Our travel to Ormoc and Tacloban was so heartbreaking,” Cherrie says. “Seeing those places devastated by super typhoon Haiyan. In Tacloban, we saw dead bodies in the street that were just uncovered while clearing the area.”
When Cherrie arrived at Holt-funded facilities, she realized some buildings were in disrepair. Several inches of water flooded the tile floors of one childcare facility in Tacloban, and turned the floors and walls a muddy brown. The water damage alone made the facility uninhabitable, and many of the children in care there were transferred to other government or private childcare facilities. Another facility, a three-story building, lost its roof, but staff and children found refuge in the lower floors.
In both cities, the storm nearly flattened most infrastructure, and broken sheets of metal, splintered wooden planks, chunks of concrete and ruined household items like clothing and toys, piled up around the childcare facilities. People who lost everything in the storm worked to build makeshift shelters from the debris.
Cherrie worked to help assess the damage to Holt facilities and homes in Tacloban and Ormoc. One childcare facility where about 35 lived needs to be rebuilt entirely, she concluded. Another, where about 20 children lived, needs a new roof and interior. Cherrie also found that nine social workers and house parents had their homes washed away in the typhoon. Their homes also needed to be rebuilt.
Meanwhile, Holt established a relief fund for those Holt children and families affected by the storm. Donations poured in, and in less than a week, the fund gathered more than $40,000 in donations. Some of this money provided immediate relief — food, water and other desperately needed supplies — while the rest will help with long-term rebuilding projects. Some of the immediate assistance also allowed our partners in Manila to provide food and safe shelter to a vulnerable group of other children and families evacuated from their homes in Tacloban.
Now, our partners are working with civil engineers to assess the estimated costs to repair Holt-funded childcare facilities and to assess alternative plans for families and children to resume school and normal lives. Rebuilding efforts are already underway in some areas.
We are grateful for our Holt family and friends, people like you, who give so much for children every day, yet never fail to step up quickly in times of need. We know that because of you and your compassion, the staff at KBF can begin making repairs to family’s homes and care centers across the Philippines.
We will continue to update you on our rebuilding efforts.