Philippines: A woman in action

Written by: Dennis Amata, Information and Communications Manager, CARE Philippines

It was a sunny morning in the laid-back village of Plaridel in the town of Dagami, Leyte. People started entering a small community chapel to attend CARE’s Community Risk Assessment training.

Rizalyn Biong, a 28-year-old mother of three, held the microphone and started the training session with a warm and vibrant greeting. Just like everybody else in her community, Rizalyn is one of the millions of people heavily affected by typhoon Haiyan in December 2013. On this special day, she’s the community facilitator of the mentioned training.

Her job was to talk to her community about reducing their risk during disasters and on how to mitigate the effects of climate change on the community, such as drought. Her energetic and enthusiastic way of explaining technical subjects made her remarkable.

Rizalyn, just like her neighbours, lost her home when Haiyan slammed their village two years ago. She recalled that she almost lost everything she and her husband invested in for years.

“It was really devastating. I just gave birth to my youngest child when the typhoon happened. We didn’t expect it would be that strong. I struggled a lot because I couldn’t give breast milk to my baby because I hadn’t eaten anything,” recalled Rizalyn.

Rizalyn received an emergency food pack and shelter repair kit from CARE and local partner Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience and Development (ACCORD).

After CARE’s livelihoods recovery program in her village, Rizalyn was contacted by CARE’s local partner ACCORD to become a community facilitator for the planned DRR and CCA trainings in her community.

Rizalyn became a perfect choice for CARE and ACCORD because of her active participation in various programs and seminars of her village. She is also her community’s nutrition scholar and passionately assists children in becoming well-nourished..

Rizalyn joined CARE and ACCORD in conducting trainings in 25 villages in her town. She said it was also her first time to visit these villages because she hadn’t gone outside Plaridel for most of her life.

“The first training was really my adjustment period. Of course I wasn’t used to talking and explaining in front of so many people. Some of them weren’t paying attention because topics are so technical, so I challenged myself to engage everyone in my next trainings,” she added.

She said that the people in her community were very much thankful for having the training. It was their first time to attend a training like this and they consider it timely and necessary.

“From my observation, people in my community really apply the lessons they learned from us. Whenever there’s an upcoming typhoon, they already make plans, keep their important belongings safe and even take the initiative to evacuate to safer locations.”

Rizalyn said she realized her potential and even developed her outgoing personality.

“Before Haiyan I was just staying at home. I really wanted to do something but I never had the opportunity. When I got this chance to help my community, I immediately grabbed it even I doubted my capability at first.”

Rizalyn believes that trainings should be done continuously to refresh the people about certain risks that may affect their lives and help them be able to adapt to climate change.

Help support communities rebuild themselves after natural disasters by providing training, materials, and education.