1,500 families from storm stricken Buhi, Camarines Sur received eco-friendly blankets and cash assistance from Tzu Chi on 16th of January.
Blankets and cash relief were distributed to the affected families of three barangays across Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur on 16th of January.
Days after Tropical Depression Usman hit most areas in Bicol, Tzu Chi volunteers went to Buhi to provide relief for this devastated area.
Eco-friendly blankets made from PET bottles were given to a total of 1,489 families: Barangay Santa Cruz - 430 families; Barangay Ipil - 331 and Barangay Iraya – 728.
During this time of the year, areas surrounding the freshwater lake of Buhi experience strong winds and cold nights. The lake that provides livelihood to the residents during the day is a nuisance during the night. These blankets will provide them with comfort at night.
“We’re thankful for this blanket since it tends to get cold in our place, especially when it rains,” said Natividad Salamangke, a resident of Barangay Iraya.
“We rarely receive help like this here in our place. That’s why we’re grateful to Tzu Chi Foundation for coming all the way out here,” said Lilibeth Tenerepe from Barangay Santa Cruz.
The distribution was done in multiple locations. For Barangay Iraya, the distribution was done at the local parish church as the community was still covered with mud due to Usman’s heavy rain. The recipients themselves crossed the waters of Lake Buhi to receive their share of aid.
For Barangay Ipil and Santa Cruz, Tzu Chi volunteers split into two groups and chartered small flotilla boats to bring the goods with them to the barangays.
Before returning to Iriga City, the volunteers dropped by Sta. Justina West Elementary School outside the town proper where more than a hundred families from Barangay Ipil were evacuated for their own safety.
Rodrigo Claveria, president of the Rotary Club of Buhi witness Tzu Chi volunteers in action while accompanying them in surveying the calamity sites. He learned more about the foundation’s advocacy through his friend who is a volunteer.
“We’ve received a lot of relief from other NGOs, but Tzu Chi stands out from the rest. Not only did they offer material aid but also gives inspiring messages to the flood victims,” said Claveria.
He adds that the blankets may seem ordinary, but it is a symbol of warmth the Tzu Chi Foundation has given to the storm-battered people of Buhi.
“The blanket is a symbolism of sorts, especially to people who literally lost everything to the disaster,” he added.
As Tzu Chi volunteer Chen Chiao Yang puts it, the blanket is a way to nourish everyone’s minds though the idea of recycling.
“By mentioning that the blankets are made from PET bottles, we hope to nourish their minds in realizing the importance of recycling and to be more concerned about the environment,” he said.
Aside from the blankets, the recipients also get cash assistance amounting to Php 6,000 for a family of one to three members; Php 8,000 for four to six members and Php 10,000 for families that have more than seven members.