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June 26, 2014
Hyatt Thrive

Thrive Thursday: Update on Typhoon Relief in the Philippines

Photo Above: Skye Fitzgerald for Mercy Corps

Many remember when Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) – the most powerful typhoon ever recorded at landfall – killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines and left thousands homeless. In a matter of days, Hyatt launched a global fundraising campaign with Mercy Corps, a leading global humanitarian agency, to support disaster relief. The response far exceeded our expectations: together, we raised more than $267,000 for Mercy Corps, including more than $92,000 from our colleagues and guests.

Today, more than seven months after the disaster, we are thrilled to say the unbelievable kindness and generosity of our colleagues and Hyatt Gold Passport members has made a real difference.

Mercy Corps began putting these funds to work immediately, distributing emergency food packages and essential hygiene kits to thousands of survivors, with a focus on reaching people in remote locations that had received little or no aid. They then transitioned to longer-term recovery work aimed at helping children cope, economic recovery, and rebuilding communities, including improved water and sanitation. To date, Mercy Corps has helped approximately 18,000 people with immediate disaster relief assistance and has provided longer-term recovery support services to 125,000 individuals.

In particular, I wanted to pass on a story Mercy Corps shared with me of one of the beneficiaries of your kindness.

Gertrude holds two types of coconut candies that she makes out of her mother-in-laws kitchen. With her second TabangKO cash disbursement, she plans to restock her supplies and resume her small business full time.

Gertrude holds two types of coconut candies that she makes out of her mother-in-laws kitchen. With her second TabangKO cash disbursement, she plans to restock her supplies and resume her small business full time.
Photo from Mercy Corps

Gertrude Mina Quinza is a young mother with two small children. When the typhoon hit, she had been living with her husband in a small house behind his parent’s home in the village of Arado. After the typhoon, there was only one pole standing where their house used to be. They set up a tent on the same spot, but it kept flooding so they decided to move in with her in-laws whose house had not sustained much damage. There was not much privacy, but it was dry.

Gertrude was one of the first to sign up for TabangKO, a Mercy Corps economic recovery program that provides small emergency cash grants delivered via mobile phone, in February. Although she had never had a bank account before, she talked about the lessons she had learned at the registration on the importance of saving and how to make good decisions with her budget. Gertrude felt prepared when she received her text message notifying her that the first payment of 2,000 pesos (approximately $45) had been deposited in her account, and she spent the first 200 pesos on food for her family, which had been in short supply since November. 

After that, she reflected on what her family needed most and what would have the greatest impact. Ultimately, they decided to invest in construction for their in-laws’ home, building three interior rooms so everyone could have some privacy.

Arado is known across Leyte Island as a place for candy. Like many others in her community, Gertrude had a small business making coconut candies. She had set up her business before the typhoon with a loan from a local sari-sari shop, which sells small items like chips and detergent. With 800 pesos, she was able to pay off her balance and eliminate a weekly strain on the family’s budget.

So far, Gertrude is planning to use the second payment, scheduled for early-May, to restart her candy making business free of loan payments. She is not sure yet exactly what the third payment will go towards, but is hoping that she can combine it with candy profits to start an emergency savings fund for her family so that they are better prepared for the next disaster.

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