Leader, survivor, mother

Have faith in him (God) no matter what happens and he will give you strength to move forward

This is how 46 years old Fish Vendor Rima Batislaon withstands the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Living in poverty for almost 15 years in a remote barangay of Silagon, Ajuy, Iloilo is not easy for her and the family. “But I need to be strong for them (family)” she says.

Reminiscing the past, Rima said that they live in a simple life. She has 5 children (1 female age 14 and 4 male ages 13,11,9 and 5) and a loving husband named Simoen Batisla- on. Her husband is a fisherman, who owns 2 pump boats and a Tangkal (a local name for a fish cage). They work together to earn money, if her husband can catch fish then she’s the one selling it but during lean season where there is limited and/or no catch they all need to suffer and wait for another day to come and hoping to have a good catch.

When Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Philippines last November 2013, their roof was easily blown by the raging wind. Rima admitted that she was scared, knowing that her husband had not returned from the seashore to secure their pump boats. Only after the ferocity of the super typhoon, her husband reached their home and they immediately went to the nearest evacuation site.

Surviving the worlds strongest typhoon is a challenge but surviving the aftermath catastrophic distraction is another story. “Many and including our family endured the pain of losing their homes, properties and livelihood,” she proclaims. She knew they could face new problems but she never imaged the heartbreak she had to face soon after. “Months had passed after the typhoon my husband died due to a heart attack while fishing and I fell on my knees and cried upon hearing the news” she revealed.

The months after the typhoon proved to be a tougher for Rima and her family. Losing her husband put her in the situation that she couldn’t escape from. But instead of giving up and losing hope, Rima remained optimistic. She started supporting her children by generating in- come from what she knew: fish vending. Every day she gets up at four in the morning to cook food for her children and prepare them for school. At around 7:30 am she sends her children to school and goes to the port to buy fish and sell them all day long. “Every day is a challenging journey but I have to work for them (children)”, says Rima.

Rima was one of the beneficiaries from ADRA’s Emergency Response Network (ERN) project in 2014. She received a fish-vending package (calculator, weigh scale, fish container, tribike and capital) that helped her save money and lessen her expenses. She also attended the COMSCA (Community Managed Saving and Credits Association) training where she became the chairperson of their new emerging saving and loaning group in her barangay. She also received a housing from another NGOs project that help victims of the Typhoon Haiyan.

“I am very happy when I heard ADRA will be having another project here in our barangay”, says Rima. The association of Rima passed the criteria of the REAP project funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Like Rima and other women members of their association, they are also struggling for their livelihood to support for their family. “An alternative livelihood will be helpful for us in the organization”, she says.

REAP project aims to increase the economic wellbeing of women and men through sustainable and resilience livelihoods. The REAP project will target Community Based Organizations (CBOs) like Rima’s organization in helping them in restoring and protecting their livelihoods by going through the Business Development Services (BDS), Savings and Credit, and DRR trainings and programs.

Rima’s says, “I hope that ADRA REAP Project will help our CBO sustain our fish-vending livelihood, capacitate our group for improvement and to have an alternative livelihood program as add-ons to improved our income”. REAP is now working on their CBO, they already attended training such as Organizational Development and Fish Brokering. For the next more months and years, discover how the ADRA REAP team will make a difference in Rima’s CBO and more importantly in her own life.