Optimism after Typhoon Haiyan: Roselyn Omeres

One of our cash grant recipients tells her harrowing story of survival, and how we’re helping her family get back on their feet
Roselyn Omeres (center) plays with her younger brothers and sisters near a capsized ship outside Tacloban. Photo: ACF-Philippines, D. Burgui
Roselyn Omeres (center) plays with her younger brothers and sisters near a capsized ship outside Tacloban. Photo: ACF-Philippines, D. Burgui

Editor's note: Earlier this week, we updated you on our progress in the Philippines. Now, to show you an example of how your support helps us reach families in need, we're sharing a remarkable story of resilience from a family in Tacloban that we're assisting with one of our post-emergency projects. 

Playing with her brothers and sisters among the rice fields outside Tacloban, Roselyn Omeres looks young and carefree. But she’s had to grow up fast: at age 19, she’s the sole breadwinner for her young child, as well as her eleven younger brothers and sisters and their mother, who is ill and can’t work.

Losing her home and livelihood

When Typhoon Haiyan struck, Roselyn and her family took refuge in a nearby school. Though they all survived, their home and land were destroyed by the storm surge. The force of the waves also capsized a huge freight ship and brought it nearly 700 feet inland to the suburbs of Tacloban, where Roselyn now plays with her brothers and sisters.

Along with their home, the typhoon also destroyed the family’s livelihood. Roselyn and her mother used to make a meager living selling bamboo sticks for bonfires and barbecues, but after the typhoon, they were left with no supplies and no money. Roselyn recalls how they survived in the days following the storm by eating rice that had been stored in the hull of the capsized ship.

Receiving cash and reaching her goal

Now, Roselyn is optimistic. Her family has rebuilt their home. Her dream now is to open a small general store that sells food, beverages, medicine, electronics, school supplies, and other goods. By providing Roselyn with an unconditional cash grant of around $100 a month, we’re helping her realize her dream.

“I want to use the grant to open my shop. Then I can have peace of mind, knowing that my daughter and my siblings who depend on me will have clothes to wear and food to eat every day.”
– Roselyn Omeres, unconditional cash grant recipient, Tacloban, Philippines

Grant programs like this one have been effective in restoring local economies during other crises in Somalia, South Sudan, and other areas affected by natural disasters. These grants aren’t handouts: their aim is to boost the economic power of the most vulnerable families, empowering them to use their grant money how they see fit and, ultimately, to rise above poverty.

We’re working with UNICEF to distribute unconditional cash grants to Roselyn’s family and some 10,000 typhoon-affected families across the Philippines. Cash-based interventions like these are a part of our long-term strategy to help Filipinos regain their self-sufficiency. Your continued support will help thousands of families just like Roselyn’s get back on their feet.