Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stories of Hope in the time of Typhoon Yolanda

In times of disasters, there is often no end to news of destruction and loss of lives. Oftentimes it is so hard to find the positive in the face of utter despair. This was what so many went through when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines exactly one year ago on Nov. 8, 2013. It is estimated that damage to the areas affected reached over 35 billion pesos.

But there is HOPE.

And over lunch with some people from Procter & Gamble (P&G), I heard some of these stories and how P&G, together with other partners, are some of the private sector organizations that are bringing hope back to people and places

Next to the devastating loss of loved ones, one thing that greatly affected those in Yolanda's destructive path was the loss of a source of livelihood for thousands. Looting became rampant in the aftermath of the super typhoon and store owners stood helpless as looters took their goods and food items even in their presence. It is actually a tribute to many store owners who later said that they allowed the looters to get everything as they understood the desperate situation they were all in.

Dranix East, P&G's distributor in the area, was also badly hit by Yolanda. But it quickly sprung into action together with P&G to start the rebuilding of lives. Calling their effort "Hope Stores", P&G had prefab sari-sari store stands, painted orange (Tide color, I immediately thought), made. The only requirement in the selection process was that the recipients of the Hope stores should have been previous store owners. This was because sustainability could only happen if the beneficiary already had previous store experience. For each orange Hope Store, P&G stocked it with PhP 1,000 worth of their popular, fast-moving products (Safeguard, Whisper, Joy, etc) to jumpstart the livelihood of the recipients.

Eventually, with additional partners like USAID, Rebuild and Coca-Cola coming in to join P&G's efforts, the Hope Stores expanded. As USAID builds houses, a section of the ground floor is also converted into a sari-sari store. Then P&G donates PhP 3,000 worth of their products as initial capital for the recipients.

We got to ask P&G several questions and it was but natural that one question would crop up. Did P&G put any conditions like lockouts on the recipients? Amazingly, there were none. P&G said that had they imposed conditions like exclusivity, it would be restrictive on the recipients and would prevent them from selling other items that they could make a profit on. The company believed in open competition and said that as long as they helped unconditionally, they knew that the goodwill would come back in some other way to them in the future. I think all donor companies should emulate this kind of thinking.

Watch this video about 3 people (Noemi, Annalyn and Reden) whose lives are now being slowly brought back to a new normal through the efforts of P&G and its partners.

About Procter & Gamble 

Three billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. The company has one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Pampers®, Tide®, Ariel®, Always®, Whisper®, Pantene®, Mach3®, Bounty®, Dawn®, Pringles®, Folgers®, Charmin®, Downy®, Lenor®, Iams®, Crest®, Oral-B®, Actonel®, Duracell®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Wella®, Gillette®, and Braun®. The P&G community consists of over 135,000 employees working in over 80 countries worldwide. Please visit for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G and its brands.

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