Hope For Haiyan

By: Hope for Haiyan

Emergency Relief , Caretaker

The Philippines sees an average of 20 typhoons a year due to its location in the "warm pool" of the Western Pacific. Like all tropical storms, typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes draw their vast energy from the warmth of the sea. For typhoons to form, temperatures of 84.2°F (28°C) are needed, and in 2013, the surface temperature of the western Pacific was 1°-to-5°C warmer as compared to its average range in 1980-2000. 

There's consensus amongst climate scientists that super storms and extreme weather will become more frequent due to rising temperatues, predicting 5-to-10% more rainfall. 

Super typhoon Haiyan -- the strongest typhoon on record to hit land -- had a storm surge two stories high and winds clocked by U.S. satellites at 195 miles per hour. It sent a wall of water 25 feet high which took the lives of an estimated 6,300 people in the Philippines. It was the deadliest Philippine typhoon in history. Bodies were recovered between November 2013 when the typhoon struck through January 2014. Many people were left hurt and homeless for years to come, scavenging for food and water to feed themselves and their children.

This video gives a glimpse to what happened from the perspective of an Emmy-nominated journalist, Angus Walker:


Hope For Haiyan is a student-led organization which is aiding in the recovery of the Filipino people who aren't able to provide for their kids. Not only are we helping with weekly feedings, we also aim to help rebuild homes, provide protection, food and clothes. 

Considered an 'island nation,' the Philippines has 7,107 islands. More than 60% of the inhabitants live in coastal zones and 40% live below the poverty line (i.e., $1.25/day). Although it's been a few years since Typhoon Haiayn struck, 13 million Filipinos -- of which 5 million are children -- are still scarred by the Super Storm. Today more than 600,000 remain homeless.

We focused first on Cangumbang, a small fishing village of 400 people 10-miles south of Tacloban. This town was reportedly hit by winds with speeds of up to 200mph. According to the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, 21 of the country’s 72 fishing provinces and over 145,000 fishermen were affected by Haiyan. In some areas up to 95% of boats and fishing equipment were lost. 

Even with the global humanitarian assistance system, the economic losses suffered by the Philippines is valued at a whopping $15-billion dollars, which constitutes 5% of the Philippine's Gross Domestic Domestic Product (GDP). According to Oxfam, a global nonprofit organization which develops long-term solutions to poverty, the crisis that followed Haiyan was well beyond what the impoverished island nation is able to handle.

Our goal each year is to raise enough money to continue the feedings of 75-100 children in the community regular weekly meals on Saturdays through our annual fundraiser. We need to raise at least $1,000 to feed almost 100 kids every week for a year.

In a partnership with Elsa Thomasma, an American who has been volunteering in the Philippines since 2009 (also a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan), we are able to document our impact and make a difference.

  • Our main goal is to provide relief to Cangumbang Philippines by raising awareness of the lack of relief services reacting to natural disasters when they occur in the area. After the typhoon hit in 2013 the entire community was left devastated. The buildings that were still standing were seriously damaged and there was very little food and clean water to be found. The funds that we raise go to providing the community with full meals that they would otherwise not have, and help rebuild the structures that were damaged


Advice for our peers

Isabella "Bella" Bohn: I attend South Oldham High School and there I am heavily involved in the art and drama departments. In Hope for Haiyan we are all very creative and we combine all of our ideas to create our organization. My involvement in the art and drama departments help me to contribute my own creativity to Hope for Haiyan. I joined Hope for Haiyan because I felt that the mission of our group was very doable and it sounded like a fantastic way to make a difference. I love my community and I do not know what I would do without it, I wanted to help restore that type of feeling for the community of Cangumbang. 

MY ADVICE:  If I had to give advice to group starting off, I would say make sure you have members who are truly passionate about what you are serving or trying to accomplish. If you put the right minds together anything is possible. Our team has already raised enough money to support the feedings of children in the Cangumbang community for the past year and for all of 2016. All youth who join Hope for Haiyan gain many friendships and become very involved in their community due to all of the activities that we as a club participate in.

Alongside all of these accomplishments is hard work. One area within our organization that has been a bit of a struggle is the attendance of team members at meetings. We always have many people, but like with any organization, club or sport, attendance of all members is key, which can be difficult at times due to how involved our members are in the community. By having an annual fundraiser we pull our team together again. We have a strong group of youth and supporters who understand the importance of community and who are always willing to come back and serve.

I think one of the most unique and revolutionary qualities of our Hope for Haiyan team is that we are youth inspiring other youth to make a difference. Hope for Haiyan is a refreshing and inspiring way to serve both local and worldwide communities.

Mercedes Kephart: I am a founding member of Hope for Haiyan. I’m from Louisville KY, like a lot of our members. We started Hope for Haiyan back in November of 2013, right before my fifteenth birthday. Personally, I supported Hope for Haiyan because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to take on a cause that helped people who I felt a connection with. I had grown up hearing about the Philippines from my mom and her family, so I already identified that country as being a part of who I am. To know that I share a name, culture, and history with people halfway around the world is a stronger tie than you’d think. When I heard about the typhoon that struck in November of 2013, I never stopped to think that I might be too young to do anything. I didn’t really think about it at all, really. I just knew I wanted to help as many people as possible to recover from such a huge natural disaster. I think sometimes people get too tied up with how they’re going to make something happen, that they never do. There’s always a way, even if it isn’t perfect.

MY ADVICE: It’s important to know exactly what your patrons’ donations will go towards. People want to know that they are actually going to make an impact on people’s lives, and it was something we struggled with in the very beginning.

Once we befriended a young woman, Elsa Thomasma -- who survived Typhoon Haiyan and still lives in the Philippines -- we had better communication flow. By supporting her efforts to rebuild Cangumbang, we have evidence of our impact from the pictures and updates she posts on her blog.  

In addition to all our work in the Philippines, Hope For Haiyan also serves food in a local soup kitchen once a month, to give back to our local community as well as our global one.  Being a member of an organization like ours will give you a sense of social responsibility as well as the knowledge that you can make an impact on the rest of the world.

Christian Kephart: My mom is originally from the Philippines, and when I heard about the typhoon that had struck and damaged Cangumbang, I couldn’t help but do something about it. So when I was 12, in November of 2013, my family and I formed Hope for Haiyan, as the typhoon was named “Haiyan.”

MY ADVICE: You don’t need a lot of money to make a difference but it takes a lot of time. Making a commitment takes up a lot of time and I’m learning that.

One of the best things you can do to get other people to participate in events is to make it fun. For example, we made a dance video and taught everyone the dance during a fundraiser where we had 120 guests come. Every year we plan to host a Halloween Costume Contest. I think people come to enjoy the food and the DJ, as well as for the cause. It's a great way to build community by having fun while helping people.

And when we serve at our local soup kitchens we meet new people every time and they comment about how young we are. So I think we leave an impact that way too.

Natalie Kephart: I started at the age of 10 in 2013. My personal mission is to help others in need. I love the idea of helping others out of the goodness of someone’s heart. I enjoy getting to know people, and making them laugh or smile. I also think being a part of Hope for Haiyan has inspired me to do good in the future years. I want to know what my purpose is in the world. I know it’s somewhere along the lines of helping people. I want life to have a meaning. I want to help other people’s lives have meaning.

MY ADVICE: A lesson I’ve learned is that things don’t always go your way even if you work hard and are excited about what you’re doing. But go for it anyway. When you help others, it makes you feel good about yourself. 

The impact we’ve had is showing others it doesn’t take much to help people in our own city and to help people across the world . Many have supported H4H because they also want to help.

Similar Innovations