In the Midst of Storm Kestana -An MFI Employee's Report

Monday, 05 Oct 2009

By Josephine Bersamina, Community Economic Ventures Inc., WV Philippines

Tropical Storm Kestana, locally known as Ondoy, ravaged our archipelago nation of the Philippines on September 26, 2009.

Our capital, Manila and 25 neighbouring provinces experienced extreme flooding as the country experienced the most intense rainfall in 40 years.

I work as an enterprise development officer with the World Vision and VisionFund affiliated microfinance institution, Community Economic Ventures Inc. (CEVI). I help people in my local community access funds to start small businesses or expand existing ones.

One community where I work is Maragondon Cavite. As a lowland area, it is vulnerable to flooding. For three days this area was under water. Strong currents washed away homes and uprooted trees.

I have 25 borrowers who live near the riverside area. When tropical storm hit, most of my clients lost their homes and livelihoods. Their families have been made vulnerable as the loss of income stripped away their ability to provide for their basic needs.

One small loan borrower was specifically hard hit. Marcuylyn Dalanay, 29, and a single mother with a four year old son lost everything when the waters rose and destroyed her home. She found herself in a mixture of water and mud up to her neck, forcing her to hold her son above water, just to survive.

Eventually she found refuge in a local convent, where she and her son were able to rest and regain their strength. She has now found accommodations by renting a small home.

Her small store is gone, and her only access to income to provide for the needs of herself and her son is gone. She is perplexed but not abandoned, as she begins to gather herself and rebuild her life through the support of her community and World Vision.

In total, nearly 300 people were killed and more than two million had swamped or destroyed homes.

To date, the Philippines has received over US$12 million in international assistance.