COVO showing accountability to the donors of “Night of Hope”

COVO showing accountability to the donors of “Night of Hope”

The “COVO- Hawaii Village” in Leyte is finished after a year of hard work.

On October 15, 2013 an earthquake struck the island Bohol in Central Visayan in the Philippines. Shortly after the disaster, the “Congress of Visayan Organization” (COVO) met in the Philippine consulate to discuss the response efforts of the Filipino Community of Hawaii. Only three weeks later super typhoon Haiyan rolled in from the Pacific Ocean and struck the same region all over again.

In addition, weather reports from this December weekend show a new super typhoon named “Hagupit,” which is expected to hit the Philippine islands.

In response to the earthquake and typhoon “Haiyan,” COVO decided to hold a concert called “Night of Hope” to raise money for the victims of the disaster. A little over a year later, Dr. Eva Washburn-Repollo who is part of COVO, is about to travel back to her origin, the Philippines, to document what the generous donations from the concert went on to build.

“It is very emotional as the time is drawing near. For a year now, it has just been so detached, working on the paperwork, listing, collecting, reporting, emailing and following up for progress reports. You almost forget that there are fruits to pick from hard labor,” said Dr. Washburn about going back to the Philippines.

The concert “Night of Hope” was held in McKinley High School Auditorium on December 1, 2013. COVO received almost $100,000 in donations and the plans were already being made on how to spend it in the best possible way.

“It was a vision that was based on the idea that we want to have something concrete and helpful to the poorest of the poor. We wanted to have something to show to the donors of the money,” says Dr. Washburn.

COVO partnered with Gawad Kalinga, to build all together 40 new homes for victims of Haiyan. Half of the houses are now standing finished in Leyte and the other are under construction on the island Bohol. Dr. Washburn will to travel to the houses in Leyte, called “COVO- Hawaii Village”, to document the houses and to show the donors what their money actually resulted in.

“We want to be an organization who can be trusted by being transparent and accountable,” said Washburn. “It is important to do this because there are many other groups who collect money during disasters and tragedies and the money are often not accounted for.”

Now that the houses are ready to be moved into, it’s a question about who gets to live there. Since the Philippines is already a country with a lot of poverty in spite of its wealth in natural resources, there are still difficulties for the families who get to move into the “COVO-Hawaii Village.”

“COVO ask families who were victimized by the storm to apply,” said Dr. Washburn. “If they comply with the requirements of the village they can undergo training for livelihood projects, communication skills and cooperative values to help the village maintain a good working relationship with each other.”

Since the storm didn’t just take away homes but also job opportunities. One of the challenges for the new residents will be to find a job. By traveling to Leyte, Dr. Washburn hope to be able to get answers to these challenges and continue COVO’s work in trying to help these victims.

As the new storm makes it’s way towards the Philippine islands Dr. Washburn said she is hoping for the best.