Withstanding The Storm

Filipino families work to recover from December typhoon

January 06, 2022 | Be Informed

Unbound is helping families in our Antipolo program in the Philippines as they recover from Typhoon Rai, known locally as Odette. Financial assistance from Unbound’s Critical Needs Fund is being used by families for food, water, home repairs and livelihood recovery, mostly from damage to farms and vegetable gardens.

As of this date, 240 families in the Unbound program have received financial assistance. More than 30 homes need major repairs. The family of Lucileen, a sponsored youth, is among those receiving support in hard-hit neighborhoods.

“All our homes were totally damaged,” she said. "[Nothing] left but our clothes that [were] scattered on the floor and full of mud. It was really heartbreaking to see my house, my home, where I had lived since I was a child, gone instantly. It was really sad to witness my siblings, my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother's first reaction when they finally saw our home was gone.”

While material damage was extensive, to date no fatalities had been reported among families in the Unbound community. However, the husband of a sponsored elder went missing while attempting to secure his fishing boat. According to Malou Navio, regional director for Unbound in the Philippines, the community has rallied around the family.

“Their family draws strength from the care, support and presence of their neighborhood,” Navio said. “[Most] are sponsored families.”


The home of Sheila Mae, a sponsored youth in the Philippines, sustained damage from Typhoon Rai. Unbound is providing assistance for repairs.

Prepared to respond 

Most Filipinos have endured typhoons before. Because such storms are common, Unbound program staffs have developed plans to quickly extend aid to families in need.

Arlyn Montojo, coordinator of Unbound’s Antipolo program, said staff members were already monitoring families in the area before the typhoon and went out to check on them as soon as Rai had passed.

“When the storm cleared, the staff immediately visited the accessible communities to check on their condition and handed out endorsements for emergency withdrawals from child accounts, to respond to their immediate needs such as food relief and house repair,” Montojo said.

Individual bank accounts for sponsored children, youth and elders are how most families in Unbound programs around the world receive funds.

In addition to financial and staff support, families in the Unbound community help each other through difficulties. Francis Rose, a sponsored youth, said her family opened their home to neighbors needing shelter during the storm.

“Before the Typhoon happened, we prayed for the whole protection and the safety of our family and the community,” she said. “We are hoping we will survive, and no lives will be lost. … We think that this is just a test or trial that we need to face, and we will win in this battle. That’s how I stay positive.”

It was really heartbreaking to see my house, my home, where I had lived since I was a child, gone instantly.

— Lucileen, sponsored youth in the Philippines

A late-season storm 

Typhoon Rai became a Category 5 storm and was classified a “super typhoon.” It’s unusual, but not unheard of, for such intense storms to appear so late in the year. Rai made landfall on the eastern island of Siargao on Dec. 16 and progressed through the Central Philippines until finally heading out to sea toward Vietnam two days later.

Thousands of families were evacuated to shelters. Reuters reported deaths exceeding 400 with more than 1,000 injured and 82 people still missing.

Unbound’s Antipolo program includes the Visayas Region, which was directly in the storm’s path. The strong winds and rain were responsible for downing power lines and disrupting communications, in addition to extensive property damage.

“We are actually not [a gateway for] typhoons here in our area,” said Unbound staff member Zuela Leparto in Cebu City. “But this time, the typhoon is very strong. Most of our sponsored families’ homes are made of light materials. We are not expecting that the typhoon will be that strong. The wind is furious and all homes, trees, signages in its way were destroyed.”


Sponsored elder Norberto in the Philippines surveys the damage to his home and property following Typhoon Rai.

What you can do  

  • • Make sure your contact information is current. In times of natural disaster, Unbound notifies sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously impacted, so keeping your information updated is important.

  • • Pray. The Unbound community holds all those affected and those assisting with relief efforts in our thoughts and prayers.

  • • Donate to the Critical Needs Fund. The fund provides assistance to families in the aftermath of events such as severe storms, earthquakes and fires.