A New Start After Disaster

8-year old, Ashley Joy, with her dad, Jeffrey Escaña

Jeffrey Escaña wakes up each morning and cooks breakfast for his three young children. He then takes the two oldest to school and the youngest to daycare. He spends his day doing odd jobs to earn money in addition to seaweed farming and then comes home to do house chores.

Before Typhoon Haiyan struck two years ago, his wife was home to help take care of the children, but the storm changed everything. Their island's economy is supported by tourism, and locals rely on fishing, seaweed farming, pedicab driving and selling snacks to tourists to survive. After the hurricane destroyed most of the island, many decided to leave for Cebu City or the capital of Manila, as Jeffrey's wife decided to do.

Jeffrey's 8-year-old daughter, Ashley Joy, is registered at Compassion's Capstone Generation Child Development Center. To help families get back on their feet, Compassion and the local church provided relief supplies and construction materials immediately after the storm and then started providing assistance with income generation.

Staff members saw Jeffrey's dire situation and decided to provide him with a motorboat to jumpstart his seaweed business again. With this boat, he wouldn't need to spend hours paddling to the spot where he grows seaweed. He can now quickly harvest the seaweed, then dry it and sell it in the local market on the main island. Because of the boat, he now has more time to take care of his children and even run a small retail and carpentry business near his home.

"It has improved my livelihood," Jeffrey said, referring to the boat. "It has helped me and my family a lot."

Jeffrey also has enough time to attend the classes for parents and the worship service at the church.

"He is one of the most faithful parents in our program," said Ruby Descartin, director of the center. "He is always present and willing to learn."

Every day is a busy day for this diligent father, but he looks forward to the afternoons when he reunites with his children. "I play hide and seek with them sometimes," he said with a big grin. "I enjoy playing with my children and spending time with them, and that’s when I really miss my wife. I pray that she would come home soon and we can be together again."

Jeffrey's family is just one of the many that received income support from the Compassion center and supporters. He said, "Thank you so much to the sponsors and typhoon donors. Because of them, we have our own boat to help sustain our lives."

Ruby also has a message to all the sponsors and donors that have helped children in crisis since the typhoon. She said, "We are very thankful for the help you have given us. Thank you very much for your undying support to your sponsored children and even those unsponsored. Thank you so much. May the Lord bless you in return. No words can really contain what we are feeling right now. We are very blessed that you have helped the families of the sponsored children."

Jeffrey with Ashley Joy on the boat he uses as a seaweed farmer
Jeffrey with two of his children in their home