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A Woman in Action: Stepping Up for Resilience
A Woman in Action: Stepping Up for Resilience
It was a sunny morning in the laid-back village of Plaridel in the town of Dagami, Leyte. People started entering a small community chapel to attend CARE’s Community Risk Assessment training.
Rizalyn Biong, a 28-year-old mother of three, held the microphone and started the training session with a warm and vibrant greeting. Just like everybody else in her community, Rizalyn is one of the millions of people heavily affected by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. And on that special day, she’s the community facilitator of the mentioned training.
Her role was to give an orientation on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) to people who live in her community. Her energetic and enthusiastic way of explaining technical subjects made her remarkable.
Rizalyn, just like her neighbours, lost her home when Haiyan slammed their village two years ago. She recalled that she almost lost everything she and her husband invested for years.
“It was really devastating. I just gave birth to my youngest child when the typhoon happened. We didn’t expect it would be that strong. I struggled a lot because I couldn’t give breast milk to my baby because I hadn’t eaten anything,” recalled Rizalyn.
Rizalyn received an emergency food pack and shelter repair kit from CARE and local partner Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience and Development (ACCORD).
“The food was a big help because that time we were all starving. All of the coconut trees and root crops were all affected and destroyed. We couldn’t get immediate help from the outside because our village is remote. We are thankful that CARE reached us and supported us until we restored our livelihoods,” she added.
After CARE’s livelihoods recovery program in her village, Rizalyn was contacted by CARE’s local partner ACCORD to become a community facilitator for the planned DRR and CCA trainings in her community.
“They asked me if I’m available to help them in facilitating the trainings. I consulted my husband because I honestly didn’t know what to do. But my husband told me to give it a try,” shared Rizalyn.
Rizalyn became a perfect choice of CARE and ACCORD because of her active participation in various programs and seminars of her village. She is also her community’s nutrition scholar and passionately assists children in getting their body mass index.
But it wasn’t an easy task for Rizalyn as she had to undergo a training first from CARE and ACCORD before she took the floor and conducted the actual trainings.
“I still remember myself reviewing the modules at night and practising in front of the mirror,” shared Rizalyn who confessed that she was an introvert prior to conducting trainings.
Rizalyn joined CARE and ACCORD in conducting trainings in 25 villages in her town. She said it was also her first time to visit these villages because she hadn’t gone outside Plaridel for most of her life.
“The first training was really my adjustment period. Of course I wasn’t used to talking and explaining in front of so many people. Some of them weren’t paying attention because topics are so technical, so I challenged myself to engage everyone in my next trainings,” she added.
Rizalyn started developing her style of facilitating. As much as possible she tries to sound very enthusiastic and even cracks jokes. She also simplified the terms used in DRR and CCA, and gave concrete examples that people could relate to.
She said that the people in her community were very much thankful for having the training. It was their first time to attend a training like this and they consider it timely and necessary.
“From my observation, people in my community really apply the lessons they learned from us. Whenever there’s an upcoming typhoon, they already make plans, keep their important belongings safe and even take the initiative to evacuate to safer locations.”
Her entire experience really made a difference in Rizalyn’s life. She said she realized her potential and even developed her outgoing personality.
“Before Haiyan I was just staying at home. I really wanted to do something but I never had the opportunity. When I got this chance to help my community, I immediately grabbed it even I doubted my capability at first.”
Rizalyn said she managed to deal with different challenges that she experienced in the field. She can now handle different types of people.
In promoting DRR and CCA in her community and other areas, Rizalyn believes that trainings should be done continuously to refresh the people about certain risks that may affect their lives and be able to adapt to climate change.
“My personal advocacy is to protect our environment by planting more trees. A lot of trees were destroyed by Haiyan and even the people to give way to their livelihood activities. We should be mindful of the adverse effects of our actions and always replace what we take from the environment,” said Rizalyn.
She hopes to continue the trainings with her fellow community people to promote DRR and CCA for the next generation.
“The youth should be involved too so they would be aware of these issues and able to do something about it.”
“Thanks to CARE and ACCORD for helping us move on and making all these help sustainable.”