Julia Ilustrisimo managed to take shelter in her son’s house when Typhoon Haiyan struck on November 8, 2013.
The 66-year-old woman from Bantayan Island in Cebu said when the winds came, she and her 66-year-old husband spent the night saying prayers and clinging on to each other, terrified as noises of the storm surrounded them.
“Being alive now is indeed a miracle,” she said.
“It was terrifying. It felt like it was the end of the world.”
When she emerged the following morning, she saw her home flattened amid fallen coconut trees, and her business in tatters.
“The three big plastic containers where I placed stocks from my sari-sari (small mini-grocery) store were all broken,” she added.
Rebuilding a business
For months, her and her husband stayed at a small makeshift structure, surviving on food rations from the government and humanitarian organisations. Her husband was able to fish and her children helped out when they could, but they struggled to bring in any income until Islamic Relief offered help through their Support to Small Businesses project. Beneficiaries were given money to help them rebuild their businesses, with decisions on funding amounts were made on the level of vulnerability of the individuals and the damage caused to their businesses.
Julia was given 12,700 Philippine pesos (about £180), which helped her get her business back on its feet. She now sells rice, soap, canned goods, sugar, cooking oil, bread, and biscuits. Her business means better access to goods for her neighbours, and she is even able to offer short-term credit if people are struggling to pay straight away.
“I’m grateful to Islamic Relief that I was able to start selling again. I even now have a new weighing scale,” she said.
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