Cheers for Charrie Ann

Who will ever forget the devastation and loss of lives that Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan) in 2013 has brought?

Certainly not Charrie Ann Astorga, 34, of Barrido, Ajuy, Iloilo.

But hers is a story of amazing resilience, of rising up again, with the aid of ADRA’s projects. They were among those who have lost their home and properties due to the super typhoon Haiyan which devastated many parts of the country on November 2013.

They are a family of farmers who get their main source of income by tilling the soil. Her father is also a skilled carpenter and so is able to provide for the family when the land is ungenerous and unyielding.

Cliché as it may sound, Charrie Ann stopped mid-high school due to financial difficulties–her mom was hospitalized, and other familial and economic challenges. But she did not lose hope and instead braved her way to finish high school by tutoring and babysitting. She was also able to go to college by being a working student as a sales lady. It was then when she met her now common-law husband who was very supportive and helped her finished her Bachelor’s degree. 

Her husband, Ramon Bravo, is a skilled paint worker and has gained some valuable knowledge in furniture-making while working in a furniture shop for 10 years. Together, they were able to start a small-time business wherein they would rip woods for their customers who were mostly fishermen, and eventually made furniture sets for living rooms and other furniture by having the customers bring their own materials and only pay for the labor.

But just as when their business was thriving and they have had some savings to buy new equipment and tools, their son was diagnosed with UTI and was hospitalized for a period of time. All their monetary assets were exhausted. And, as if it was not unfortunate enough, after having barely saved just enough money to buy the long-coveted equipment, Yolanda struck. Most of the tools and materials for furniture-making were destroyed, and part of their tiny ‘furniture shop’ was reduced to muddy rubble.

Yet like an answered prayer, help arrived through cash for work programs and livelihood training sponsored by ADRA.

“I learned a lot, especially when I got my license as a massage therapist, it gave me additional income while our furniture shop is also operational”, says Charrie Ann, with a beaming face and a contagious, energetic voice. 

But just like any other stories, hers is a continuous series of ups and downs. This year has been a really challenging year for her family, “We stopped our operation for more than a month during the declaration of total lockdown due to Covid-19 Pandemic.”

And on the 16th of August 2020, heavy rainfall flooded their area (which is in a depressed portion beside the creek) and unfortunately, no one was at their shop at that time causing irreparable damage to their machines and equipment, and their shop, in utter ruin.

It is literally true a saying that there is sunshine after the rain. Charrie Ann was granted financial loan to purchase new equipment and additional capital to recover their furniture business, on September 3, by Project RISE (Responsible Investments and Shared Empowerment) funded by ADRA China in Hong Kong. 

And so, they pressed on. With greater determination and even greater faith, Charrie Ann and her family was able to brave the odds and is now living the life that God has intended for them.

Written by: Bernadine Matarum, ADRA Volunteer Writer