The restorative spirit of God is most often experienced through the encouragement of others possessing and conveying Christ-like love in words and actions.
Fueled by the generosity of donors who share in this spirit, and through widespread presence spanning 126 countries, The Salvation Army is blessed to offer restoration to individuals and communities in need – to bear their burdens and lift their spirits – before, during, and after disaster strikes.
In November, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan wreaked unprecedented destruction on the Philippines. Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services teams rushed to the scene of the devastation – the worst in the Philippines’ history – providing food, shelter, water, and emotional and spiritual care for the survivors. At least 6,300 people were killed and 1,785 went missing. More than 16 million people were affected, four million displaced, and approximately half a million houses completely destroyed.
With sponsorship from The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), The Salvation Army met immediate needs by distributing 14,000 relief packs among survivors in Tacloban, Dulag, and North Cebu. In partnership with Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), Samaritan’s Purse, and World Health Organization (WHO), The Salvation Army supported medical care, vaccinations, counseling, dental care, and the distribution of hygiene kits to 45 villages in the municipality of Dulag and Tacloban City.
In the weeks following the disaster, focus shifted to long-term, integrated community development projects to enable residents to improve their livelihood and sustain their daily needs.
One of the hardest hit industries was farming. Coconut farming, in particular, is a very important source of economic activity in the Philippines, which is among the biggest producers in the world with approximately 3.5 million farmers across the country, according to the Department of Agriculture. Coconut trees are considered to be the “trees of life” to farmers in the Philippines due to their value in offering oil, lumber, wine, juice, food, coal, medicine, and cleaning material.
In Typhoon Haiyan’s wake, countless coconut trees, along with the livelihoods and spirits of the farmers who owned them, were uprooted and destroyed. An estimated 33 million trees were damaged by the typhoon affecting 240,000 of farmers in the Leyte Province alone.
SAWSO had the unique opportunity to support long-term sustainability efforts by working in partnership with The Salvation Army in the Philippines and local government units to identify 5,000 farmers in Leyte as recipients of coconut seedlings and inter-crop seeds, which will bear fruit and vegetables in the interim while the trees grow to fruition. A total of 223,256 coconut seedlings were distributed in 39 villages in Leyte.
Gorgonio and Arlene Agullo were two such beneficiaries of the project. Residing in the village of San Rafael, Dulag Leyte, the Agullos used coconut farming as their sole source of income. When Typhoon Haiyan struck, 98% of their crops were destroyed, along with any hope they had for the future in earning a living and providing for their home and family.
The Salvation Army provided 152 coconut seeds with fertilizer, along with financial support to the Agullo family, restoring their purpose and revitalizing confidence in the future.
The Salvation Army continues to provide essential support and sustainable solutions for villages struggling in the aftermath of disaster in the Philippines – and around the world – thanks to SAWSO donors who are compassionately enabling outreach and restoration for international communities in their time of need.