When the sun shines, rural Iloilo can feel like a tropical paradise. But when Typhoon Haiyan ripped into it, this province of the Philippines was anything but.
On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest storms ever to make landfall, killed 6,300 people and left four million homeless.
As soon as we heard the news, people in the UK were ready to help.
Over the next few months, our supporters raised a staggering £13 million for the British Red Cross.
Three years later, recovery from the typhoon is complete in Iloilo and people have been left better able to cope with future storms.
Here is how you – and Victoria Beckham – helped to rebuild communities.
Amazing public support
Thanks to a special donation of clothes and shoes by Victoria Beckham, our Chelsea charity shop held a one-off designer sale.
Publicity about her donation in the Guardian, Hello and other media helped spread the word.
On the Tuesday a few days after the typhoon hit, Tesco invited us to collect at Tesco stores across the UK and a date was set for the weekend.
An appeal to help with the collection went out to staff, volunteers and the public and the response in just a few days was fantastic.
People teamed up to help fill collection buckets and we raised an amazing £628,000. Tesco donated £50,000.
All over the UK, people held coffee mornings, dinner parties and fundraising events at homes and schools.
Companies, community organisations and trusts also pitched in: for example, AstraZeneca donated £250,000.
All of this translated into immediate help with food, water, shelter and medical care for thousands of people in the first days and months after Haiyan.
A lifeline for the Philippines
Today thousands of people live in new, stronger homes: around 2,200 houses were built by our teams and over 4,100 families received grants to repair their own houses.
Like this model home, the new houses are made from sturdy wood with window shutters and metal roofs that are better at withstanding storms.
They are also on stilts in case of flooding and are much roomier than the houses they replace, which were made of reeds in the traditional style.
Haiyan destroyed not only houses but also shops, fishing boats and farms, leaving people unable to earn a living.
Jolito Bacanto rebuilt his small shop with help from one of 184 groups we supported to offer savings and loan options for businesspeople after the typhoon.
Group members got small grants to restart and improve their businesses. By helping people start saving, the groups also helped families create a nest egg to fall back on if another storm struck.
They could also use their savings to improve their business or for family emergencies.
The Red Cross’ recovery programme was not just about getting people back to where they were before, but about helping them to do even better in the future.
Our four-month technical training for rice farmers taught people new, more efficient organic techniques to boost their crop yields and improve their soil.
Many continue to learn from each other.
Vegetable crops were wiped out during the typhoon, leaving many farmers, like Ricky Gumban above, with no way to make a living and support their families.
Cash grants and replacements for lost seeds and tools helped farmers like Ricky to get back on their feet.
We also helped set up 12 organic farming associations that will help people continue to learn and improve their farms into the future.
Haiyan did not spare schools and many were damaged or destroyed along with everything else.
Thanks to your donations, the British Red Cross helped to rebuild 20 classrooms in four schools. Sixteen schools also got new clean water supplies and toilets.
And then there’s CHAST – children’s hygiene and sanitation training – that taught more than 3,400 children in Iloilo how just washing their hands and keeping clean could help them stay healthy.
We also helped 10 schools to develop disaster contingency plans for future storms. Teachers now hold regular drills so pupils can practise what to do.
The power of people across the world
The Typhoon Haiyan appeal is an inspiring example of how when people come together, they can make a real difference to other people across the world.
People like Abigail Gemaol, her husband and her daughter, above, who were helped by the Red Cross and now have a new home.
“I’ve always thought of the Red Cross as an organisation who gives relief to poor people, but I found out they do more than that,” Abigail said.
“They help people get back on their feet and I’m very grateful to the Red Cross for giving us this new home.”
And we are grateful to everyone whose support helped make this possible.
- Give to the Disaster Fund to help others whenever a crisis hits
- Find out more about our work in the Philippines
- Read more about recovery from Typhoon Haiyan
Photos © Sanjit Das, Michael Hobbs, Noel Cellis, and British Red Cross