After one of the deadliest typhoons ever recorded hits the Philippines, Cargill employees arrive to rebuild a school and support recovery efforts.
In late 2013, a group of Cargill Singapore employees were hard at work, organizing school supplies to take on a volunteer trip to the Philippines. The supplies would be delivered to Hi Bao An, an elementary school that Cargill was helping to renovate. But on November 8, just days before the team was scheduled to depart, tragedy struck. Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm to ever reach land, hit the Philippines with winds up to 190 miles per hour, destroying villages and leaving thousands dead. While most people were looking for a way out of the country, Cargill’s employees flew into the area as planned, recognizing an opportunity to bring relief to people in need.
When the Cargill team arrived in Capiz, one of the villages hardest hit by the storm and home to Hi Bao An, they found it almost completely flattened. Volunteers got right to work, meeting with displaced families and delivering 630 relief packages containing basic necessities like water, non-perishable foods and hygiene products.
Despite the destruction in front of them, the Cargill team did not let its original goal fall by the wayside. By day, employees helped to repair the school, building a new lunchroom, planting a vegetable garden and filling the library with donated books. At night, they packed food and supplies onto trucks to be delivered to other villages impacted by the typhoon. “Words such as ‘devastation,’ ‘desperation’ and ‘destruction’ come to mind when I think about 63 of the 69 houses in the village being destroyed,” remembered Eduardo Gebara, a team lead for Cargill’s risk management unit in Singapore. “But when we arrived, we were warmly embraced by the people, and I realized that the best of human nature shines through when help from around the world is provided.”
Thanks in part to Cargill, Hi Bao An’s new lunchroom opened on schedule, providing more educational opportunities to children in the region. After Cargill’s team of volunteers left the Philippines, the company offered ongoing support to the areas that saw the worst damage by donating US $500,000 to the United Nations World Food Programme, which helped further relief and recovery efforts.