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The Philippines: A new beginning

Ellie Farmer spent six months in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Here she describes just one of the many people your support has helped.

One year after typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, I returned to the Cabuyiynan Farmers' Association to see Association Manager, Crispin Miranda. The association members are continuing their work to clear the land of fallen coconut trees and I can see that since I was last here, both people and nature have been busy. You can almost hear the plants growing in the sun. The coconut trees are still gone, but the grey land that had been stripped to the soil by the storm now looks like it has been painted green.

When I meet Crispin, he is animated and is thinking about the future. "We have just submitted a livelihood proposal to Oxfam to make furniture using the coconut lumber," he says. "This is the next stage. We are farmers, but we have to progress." 

With the price of coconut lumber falling, the farmers who have worked to clear the land must now look for additional sources of income. "Since the soil is now open to the sun without the trees, it is now time for us to make use of the sunlight. We are growing root crops, sweet potatoes, cassava and bananas. Sometimes bananas take eight months but they are already bearing fruits. So it's a sign that we are moving on," Crispin says.

I ask Crispin how he plans to mark the anniversary. "We will recall what happened to us during the disaster and think about how we survived," he says, "We will pray for the victims of the typhoon." As I listen to Crispin, I am both amazed and humbled. All around me I can see the results of everyone's hard work. In the face of all the devastation and loss Crispin has endured, he is prepared to work hard to secure a future for himself and others. Like the land he works on, Crispin is fighting back

He tells me, "Oxfam is not only helping us, they are helping fishermen, and farmers, and people who have to rebuild their homes. They have given support preparing land and planting crops. It is a big help. Maybe I have said it already, but without the international organisations we would be hard up. Without this assistance we would not have any income. Before the storm we only earned money during the planting season. Now we can earn throughout the year".

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