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Leaving no one behind: Australia and CFSI help the most vulnerable rebuild their lives

Quenna, now seven years old, suffers from poliomyelitis or polio. Due to her condition, she has always had difficulty walking, which gave her parents no other choice but to keep her inside their home, a small nipa hut near the shore.

When the super typhoon Rai hit the Philippines in December 2021, it left 2.1 million homes destroyed, including Quenna’s home. With her condition, her family were among the families in urgent need of life-saving support.

To ensure that no one is left behind, especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged, the Australian Government and CFSI have launched a project that aimed to support local government efforts in addressing the urgent needs of over 23,000 most vulnerable individuals in the most affected areas in the CARAGA Region and the province of Southern Leyte. The project targeted the most disadvantaged groups including persons with disability or chronic illnesses, and the elderly.

Through the help of the Australian Government and Community and Family Services International (CFSI), Quenna’s family were provided with immediate humanitarian assistance in the form of shelter materials and cash assistance. With the cash that they received, Quenna’s family bought immediate needs such as food for Quenna and her three other siblings, as well as construction materials and carpentry services to rebuild their home.

Quenna

Rolex Diaz, 43, was also one of the individuals who benefited from the project. Having suffered from a stroke that left him debilitated, he was not included in the local government’s registry initially. But through the efforts of CFSI who ensured that the assistance was extended to as many people as possible, Rolex received cash and shelter assistance.

Because of the assistance, Rolex and his family were able to buy medicine for himself and food for the family. He has now recovered from the trauma caused by the super typhoon and his stroke, and is able to care for his wife and five children. Now that they have rebuilt their home, he has also been able to reuse the shelter materials that they received for their small boat, to protect his children from the sun and rain when they go to school in the neighbouring island.

“I am so thankful to the Australian Government and the hardworking CFSI staff who have helped us during our most difficult time. The assistance we have received from them saved us from hunger and helped me recover,” said Rolex.

To sustain the recovery of the families, the Australian Government and CFSI provided temporary employment to displaced individuals who participated in relief and rehabilitation activities in their communities. Kitchen sets, food, personal care items, drinking water, assistive devices and psychosocial support were also provided through the project.

Through these sustaining activities, parents were able to earn a living, and their children were able to continue their education. “I thank the Australian Government and CSFI for helping us recover from the damages of the typhoon. Because of your help, I can go back to school – I want to finish my studies and become a teacher so that I can help my parents in the future,” said Quenna.

As of writing, at least 2,200 households have been provided with immediate humanitarian assistance through the project. Each household provided with assistance has at least one member with disability or chronic illnesses, or who is an elderly.

Since the 1990s, Australia has provided emergency relief and recovery assistance to thousands of Filipinos following natural disasters. We continue to work innovatively with the Philippine Government and humanitarian partners to help the most vulnerable people, ensuring that no one is left behind.

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