In December 2012, Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines and destroyed the coastal town of Baganga. Then, in November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central region of the Philippines, an area still recovering from a recent earthquake. In both cases, CRS was on the ground tending to those hit first and worst by the storms.
“This is a good house, and a community full of good people who waited for their own homes because they believed our family needed a dry place the most.”
- Annaliza Leban, who gave birth to triplets just days before her home was destroyed by Typhoon Bopha.
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Catholic social teaching focus:
Option for the Poor
As a community of faith, we have the obligation to reach out to those who are most in need. The Gospel calls us to take action on behalf of the most vulnerable members of society.
The Lebans’ Story
Annaliza and Danilo Leban live in Baganga, a coastal town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. In December 2012 they were in a hospital several hours away from home, waiting for Annaliza to give birth to triplets. Meanwhile, a major typhoon struck Baganga.
The Lebans were relieved to hear that their five older children made it safely though the storm. But when they returned they found their home and the whole town destroyed. Danilo built a shelter from what was left of their home, but it could not protect the family from the heat, rain and mosquitoes. The newborn babies grew sick.Then CRS and its partners arrived to help. The townspeople held a meeting with CRS to plan how they would rebuild their town and to vote on which family should receive the first new house. All of the homes in Baganga had been destroyed, but every person in the meeting voted that Annaliza and Danilo should receive the first new house.
“This is a good house,” said Annaliza, “and a community full of good people who waited for their own homes because they believed our family needed a dry place the most.”
CRS hired Danilo and other community members to build the new houses and to clear rubble from farm land so the fields can be replanted. Danilo is proud to help the neighbors who were so generous to his family.
Read more stories from the Philippines.
Facts to Consider
- The Philippines are made up of 7,107 islands, many of them mountainous and covered in tropical rainforests. The country is vulnerable to typhoons, floods and other natural disasters. CRS and local Church partners respond to emergencies by providing victims with urgent items like food, blankets and housing materials. In addition, CRS’ cash-for-work programs pay survivors to remove rubble and rehabilitate flooded areas. As communities recover, CRS works with families to rebuild houses and make them stronger than before.
- Typhoon Bopha (or Pablo) was the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, taking more than 1,000 lives and destroying more than 150,000 homes in December 2012. The shelters Filipinos are building with CRS’ help in Baganga are made to withstand a typhoon and are constructed with coconut tree lumber.
- CRS Philippines is Catholic Relief Services’ oldest continuously operating program. Prompted by the mass destruction and loss of life in the Philippines during World War II, Catholic Relief Services, then called War Relief Services, first launched relief efforts in that country in 1945.
- Today, CRS focuses on agriculture and peace-building programs in the Philippines, and is ready to provide relief after natural disasters.