A Yolanda widow’s struggle


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Lilibeth Sevilla lost her husband and 3 children when Typhoon Yolanda hit. But her struggles are not yet over

WIDOWS. A woman walks past super typhoon Haiyan victim bodybags awaiting burial in a massgrave at a cemetery in Tacloban on November 2013. The super typhoon left behind a pool of broken homes and jobless single mothers. Photo from AFP/ Odd Andersen

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Lilibeth Sevilla, 37, lost her husband and 3 of her children when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Visayas in November 2013. Now, 4 months after the super typhoon, she is still struggling to keep her son and herself from starvation.

Sevilla’s husband worked as a fruit vendor. But after the typhoon, all the supplies were damaged.

“We did not earn much, but we did not have problems in buying the things we needed,” Sevilla said. “But now, even the little we had is gone.”

Despite the hardships, Sevilla is staying strong for her son. She is in desperate need of a job.

Sevilla is only one of the millions of Filipinos who lost their livelihoods, families, and properties due to the super typhoon. It claimed over 6,000 lives, affected more than 3 million families and damaged billions worth of property.  (READ: Yolanda in numbers)

Affected women

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on Saturday, March 8. The day also marks the fourth month of rehabilitation efforts after Typhoon Yolanda.

More than 2 million female workers were affected by Yolanda, around 64% of them were aged 22-55 years old – meaning most of those who lost their livelihoods were also wives and mothers. Many parents lost their partners and children.They became the household’s sole breadwinners overnight.

The super typhoon left behind a pool of broken homes and jobless single mothers. With limited resources and work opportunities currently available in their communities, these mothers are left with a simple yet alarming question: “How will I feed my children?”

Employment for survivors

In an effort to give livelihood opportunities to widows like Sevilla, the International Labor Organization and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has created over 20,000 jobs under emergency employment programs (EEP).

The EEPs are expected to speed up recovery of typhoon-hit communities and boost their local economies.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and ILO also recently signed a memorandum of agreement that will help 1,400 beneficiaries from provinces devastated by Yolanda.

“We think about millions of people who lost their primary source of income to the super typhoon. Through this partnership, we will help them develop new skills and be part of rebuilding their communities, while ensuring their safety and health and providing health insurance and social security,” ILO country director Lawrence Johnson said.

TESDA and ILO will provide employment opportunities for the survivors. The beneficiaries will undergo livelihood trainings and will receive the necessary tools, materials and training allowance.

“The key objective is to contribute to improving the livelihood of families through gainful employment and other income generating activities, and thereby reducing vulnerable workers and vulnerabilities of women, youth and people with disabilities,” the MOU between ILO and TESDA stated.

The project will run until December 2014. It will be mainly implemented by TESDA and its network of technical vocational education and training institutions in selected areas.

“Working with the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, we support this rebuilding process because placing employment at the forefront of recovery is a sustainable and viable option,” Johnson added. 

Hired in one of the EEPs, Sevilla said she was able to meet the immediate needs of her son. She also feels that the work of clearing rubble is a great way to help her community.

Sevilla is optimistic for her son’s future. With more work opportunities, she is determined to work hard to make her son’s dreams to come true. – Rappler.com

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