The Greater Manila area of the Philippines was hit by torrential downpours on 11th August 2018. Marikina City and Quezon City were both filled with flood debris and mud after the floodwaters receded, calling for immediate clean-up action. Tzu Chi Philippines launched a two-day cash-for-work relief programme that paid the locals to clean up the cities from 16th to 17th August 2018.
Thousands Mobilised to Clean up their Hometowns
The heavy rains in Greater Manila stopped on 12th August, but the water level in Marikina River was still very high. Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines seized the time to conduct disaster assessments in the flood-stricken areas. They saw alleys that were filled with trash, which emitted a stench in the humid weather, and this was detrimental to the health of the residents.
As Tzu Chi volunteers walked through Marikina City and the town of San Mateo, they comforted the affected residents while finding ways to help them. Tzu Chi volunteer Alfredo Li said, "With so much mud around, we need both manpower and machinery to clear the piles of debris and trash away as soon as possible, so that the residents’ lives can return to normal."
After an initial assessment, Tzu Chi Philippines launched a cash-for-work relief programme in four areas of Marikina City, where local residents were recruited to clean up their hometowns. Tzu Chi volunteers in three volunteer zones were also mobilised to assist the locals in their cleanup efforts.
Prior to the commencement of the work relief programme, Tzu Chi volunteers led the locals in a prayer session before distributing cleaning tools to them. The city council of Marikina also provided heavy machinery to help ease their cleanup work.
One of the participants of the programme, Earl Haguisan, said, “As long as we help to clean up the community, everyone will feel safe and be able to live in peace.”
The mayor of Marikina City commended Tzu Chi for its speedy assistance, which allowed the flood victims to return to normalcy within a short period of time. He also joined the prayer session and personally distributed the cash relief to the residents. Each participant of the cleanup programme was paid 800 Pesos (est. SGD21) for completing each day of work.
Local resident Ricky, a polio sufferer, came with a crutch together with his younger brother. His participation in Tzu Chi’s work relief programme enabled him to pay for his son’s medical bills. Ricky said that his son was injured after falling into a river a few days ago and was in urgent need of ongoing medication. He thanked Tzu Chi’s founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, and the volunteers for giving him timely assistance when he needed it the most.
The cash relief was ready for collection immediately after the residents finished a day of work, and it was a timely financial aid for many families. One of the cash relief recipients shared, "When I first received the money, I was so happy that I cried. My husband is unable to work, and I cannot afford to pay my children’s school fees, so this money is very helpful to us.”
After two days of cleaning, the locals gradually recovered from the flood disaster and the former vitality of the city was restored.