Remita: Looking forward to tomorrow

Remita is one of the beneficiaries of Handicap International's shelter project in Sigma, Capiz where they provided cash grants and construction materials to vulnerable families whose houses were partially or totally damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.  © Jen Mendoza/Handicap International

Remita (above, left) is one of the beneficiaries of Handicap International’s shelter project in Sigma, Capiz where they provided cash grants and construction materials to vulnerable families whose houses were partially or totally damaged by Typhoon Haiyan. © Jen Mendoza/Handicap International

“Of course I remember you. It’s good to see you!”

This was Remita’s enthusiastic greeting as she paused from tending her small vegetable patch to greet Handicap International’s shelter team, who came to check the condition of her newly-repaired house in Barangay Bangonbangon, Sigma, Capiz, Philippines.

74-year old Remita and her 72-year old husband Amador were among the 700 households supported by Handicap International’s shelter project in Sigma, Capiz. The project targeted vulnerable families whose homes were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan last November 8, 2013. Considered as one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, Haiyan destroyed 1.1 million houses in central Philippines, thereby displacing 4.1 million families.

Remita’s smile falters as she retells her experience during Haiyan. “When we realized that the typhoon was going to blow away the house, I ran to my son’s house and asked for his help to evacuate Amador. My son’s house was also damaged by the typhoon but thankfully all of us were safe,” Remita recalls.

The typhoon damaged a large number of houses and livelihoods but the effects were felt most keenly by vulnerable families who were struggling even before the disaster. Old, frail and blind in her right eye, Remita serves as the primary caregiver for her husband Amador, after a stroke left him paralyzed and unable to perform basic activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing and eating) two years ago. Amador also suffers from asthma, and is legally blind due to cataracts. The couple has no steady source of income, apart from small amounts occasionally given by their 10 children.

“Life was harder after the typhoon. We had no house and no income. Before Yolanda (local name of Haiyan), I used to raise 10 chickens in our backyard, but the typhoon killed most of them. Now, I rely on my vegetable patch to provide us with food. My children are poor like me and have their own families to feed, they cannot give us consistent support,” Remita says.

Remita standing behind her repaired home. © Jen Mendoza/Handicap International

Remita standing behind her repaired home. Apart from construction materials and cash grants, Handicap International also provided rehabilitation services and assistive devices to other beneficiaries. © Jen Mendoza/Handicap International

By the time of the assessments, Remita’s children were already able to do makeshift repairs on her totally damaged house. As such, HI decided to give her a shelter repair kit instead, consisting of cash grants to cover shelter repair and retrofitting costs, as well as a standard roofing kit to ensure the quality of her new roof. Like all beneficiaries, Remita was also given a cash grant to cover her other basic needs such as food and other expenses.

In order to address the needs of persons with disabilities and specific needs, such as elderly persons with mobility limitations, HI also decided to provide mobility and assistive devices to selected beneficiaries. On the day of the visit, HI was assessing Remita’s house to prepare for the construction of a ramp to improve its accessibility. Amador will also be given a wheelchair and a commode chair.

“I’m very thankful. Our house has been repaired, and now a commode chair will make Amador much more comfortable, while a wheelchair will enable him get around on his own again. The ramp makes it easier for both of us to go in and out of the house. I’m really excited for the construction of the ramp to begin!”, says Remita.