In 2013, one of the world’s deadliest typhoons struck the Philippines, Typhoon Yolanda ((Haiyan). Headwaters volunteers have reached out to support this poor and fractured island nation as they struggle to rebuild. During a recent deployment, our efforts focused on educational support that teachers, caregivers and families can use to offer mental health support and empower and promote the development of resilience.

A central part of this program was the distribution of the second printing of the children’s book “When Strong Winds Blow.” Using the power of story-telling and imagery, the book helps children better understand their feelings in the traumatic aftermath of a typhoon and how to prepare should another one strike, thereby giving them more control and predictability in their own lives. Written in Tagalog and English, the book was shared and distributed to hundreds of children, teachers and community leaders throughout the trip.


Headwaters volunteers responded to a small fishing village called Pinabacdao in Samar. Julius Delos Reyes, a student, had asked Headwaters Relief for help via Facebook after Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) destroyed his village in 2014, almost to a day one year after Typhoon Yolanda. This village had received little if any humanitarian aid or support. Headwaters brought food and clothing. Tito Tabones, a resident of the village, later posted on Facebook: “How did you ever find us? It is heartening to see that in this often heartless and wicked world of ours that signs of God’s goodness and love appear quite unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere. Our village is deeply grateful to these good people for coming to help.”

Headwaters volunteers also provided training at the Disaster Responders Training in Cebu where they lead sessions in psychological first aid, grief and loss, compassion fatigue, play therapy and cultural competency. The first responders, religious leaders and health care professionals who attended the training will in turn train others in these techniques, multiplying Headwaters’ impact to hundreds who are on the front lines of disaster relief and recovery.

A great shout out to our volunteers and a special thank you to all our hosts including GR3 International, Pastor Blasé, as well as to interpreter Arceli Gerona-Diaz, helping to make this Philippines trip rewarding and successful.


Visit our photo gallery to see more pictures from the trip.