Assistance after Typhoon Haiyan helped Anita recover and afford crutches.
Anita Ochia, at left, lives in the Philippines with her husband, a farmer, and adopted son. She was a traditional midwife in their community, which provided income. She suffered a disability in 2012, when she was 63, after slipping near the river while taking a bath. Her family was poor but self-sufficient until a typhoon struck, ruining her home and the family’s crops. Here’s Anita’s story, in her own words.
When a typhoon struck, her life was devastated.
“At first, we never believed what we heard about Typhoon Haiyan, because it was really hot and sunny. However, I observed our environment and I felt different. I remembered and believed in the old ways and belief in observing the weather. There were no winds and it was really quiet, which I think was not normal. I also felt that there would be something worst to happen, so I did some rituals to cast away the bad thing. After that, I heard some information from our neighbor that the typhoon was already hitting Tacloban.
At two in the morning, we already heard strong winds coming in. I prayed for help to survive this typhoon right after I heard and felt it. My husband and children didn’t want to go out, so I decided that I had to be the one who would check the place and then bravely crawled outside. They followed afterwards. We crawled to the house of one of our counselors because we couldn’t withstand the strong winds. I couldn’t explain the situation. For me, it was even worse because of my condition. I didn’t have crutches to use, so my eldest child helped me get to a safe place. At seven in the morning, our house was already damaged. All of us were safe, but we didn’t have food to eat and nothing left, even our house so as our livelihood. We just waited for the relief the next day.”
HelpAge gave Anita money for food and crutches.
“When HelpAge-COSE came, older people were their priority so I was really happy. They have helped us with our issues and concerns, although our barangay (village) should be the one doing this, but I saw that it is even better with your assistance.
I am one of the beneficiaries of 800 PhP (17.16 USD) Social Welfare Support for six months. I used the money to buy food for our family since our plants and crops are not yet ready for harvest. This little amount helped us to recover from typhoon Yolanda. I also bought crutches from the money that you (HelpAge-COSE) gave. I can move freely now; you helped me walk and stand!
I really wanted to work but due to my disability I couldn’t help, even just planting some crops in the nearby lot. If people are already used to work, they will be looked for it. With my situation, I’m looking forward for a livelihood assistance that are applicable to people with disability from any organization. I hope you continue your work with older people and persons with disability.”