Emergency Assistance following Typhoon in the Philippines: Regaining workplace for persons with disabilities

On November 8th, 2013, the Philippines was struck by the fierce Typhoon Haiyan (locally know as Yolanda). 
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has deployed its staff members to the affected site since November 14th and has been carrying out humanitarian aid activities such as food distribution and provision of building materials to rebuild houses. As of this date, 2 staff members are based in Cebu City, Cebu Province and are continuously assisting on reconstruction.

Workshop for persons with disabilities submerged under water

Tacloban People with Disabilities Cooperative (TAPDICO), located in Tacloban City, northeast of Leyte Island, is one of the facilities that suffered heavy damage following Typhoon Haiyan. The Cooperative, whose mission is to promote the self-reliance of persons with disabilities, owns a small furniture workshop on the hillside of Tacloban and was manufactures furniture such as desks and chairs for elementary schools. Out of 35 employees, approximately 80% are persons with disabilities.
On the day of the typhoon, vast amounts of rain water flooded in from the upper side of the mountain and the workshop was submerged. Machinery used for manufacturing furniture was damaged and most of the materials became unusable.

Iron pipes for furniture material (pictured right rear) had been rendered unusable from rust. Ms. Yemarin, the Representative of the Cooperative meets with (pictured right) Mr. Noriyasu OKAYAMA of AAR (pictured left) (December 22nd, 2013)

At the workshop, parts of roof had been blown away and many of the machines had become unusable after being submerged. Ms. Jyuli HIROYA of AAR inspecting the damage (December 22nd, 2013)

“Thank you. Now we can reopen the workshop.”

AAR has assisted on rebuilding the workshop. On December 29th, 2013, we delivered four machines that are indispensable to the manufacturing of desks and chairs (Compressor (compress the air to be utilized as power source for the tools), welding machine, motor, and electrical saw), as well as raw materials such as lumber to be used in manufacturing ordered items for the time being. The representative, Ms. Yemarin, says she had received offers after the typhoon to go work in Manila, thus closing the workshop, but had been searching for a means to reopen the workshop and continue to work with the facility. She had told us “(I am) truly thankful to all your support.”

With new machinery delivered, the workshop will once again come to life. Noriyasu OKAYAMA pictured left. In the center of the photo, Ms. Yemarin in orange shirt. The two people to the right are staff members of the Cooperative. Machinery from the left: compressor, motor, cutter, welding machine (December 29th, 2013)
The work has begun with the supplied machinery. Workshop staff cutting iron pipe using the cutter (January 14th, 2014)

The workshop makes schools chairs such as these shown in the photo. Welding machine supplied by AAR Japan, pictured center back. (January 14th, 2014).
AAR will continue to support and work in Leyte Island and the northern parts of Cebu Island with a focus on persons with disabilities in activities such as the provision of reconstruction materials.

【Reporter】Profile as of the date of article publication

Jyuli HIROYA, Tokyo Office
Worked as an Intern in Kenya with an NGO after graduating from university. Joined AAR Japan in January 2009, after working in the private sector. Worked as part of a team in Emergency Assistance for Typhoon in the Philippines in September, 2009. Was stationed in Southern Sudan from June 2012 to September 2013. Currently in Tokyo headquarter and is responsible for operations in the Philippines and Kenya. (Born in Kanagawa Province)