CAFOD started working in the Philippines in 1969, when a typhoon struck the country. Afterwards we began defending human rights at the height of martial law in the 1970s. Much of our recent work has been on the southern island of Mindanao, where fighting between Islamic separatists and Philippine forces is common.
On 8 November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, tearing apart the lives of more than 14 million people. The typhoon was one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall, and it left more than five million people homeless. CAFOD responded to the disaster within hours, providing food, shelter, water and sanitation and emergency supplies.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, we helped rebuild houses and we worked with parishes, community organisations and local governments to ensure that people were better prepared for typhoons. We also helped communities to develop early warning systems and to create plans for what to do when disaster strikes.
These systems were vital in saving lives when Typhoon Hagupit struck the Philippines in December 2014. Our partners worked with churches, community organisations and local governments to help people evacuate, and distributed water and emergency shelter kits.
In addition to working on disasters, our recent work in the Philippines has included defending human rights, peace building amongst divided communities and training for farmers.
"Typhoon Yolanda affected us because it destroyed almost all our coconut trees, which is how we earned our income. It takes about six years for coconut trees to grow back. Now we have difficulty finding sources of food for our children.
"CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services helped us to set up a new garden. We will plant vegetables, so we have food to eat. If I ever get to earn a living again, I will want to restore my house, send my children to school and send my disabled child for medical treatment".
Cleofas Friego lives in Palo, an area which was badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda).