Originally from the Philippines, Naneth Castner works in the bakery at Weaver’s Orchard. Since the deadliest typhoon in recorded history for the country devastated its people in early November this year, Weaver’s Orchard is fundraising to help those who have lost so much.
And Castner’s stories are a strong inspiration for how important it is to give and support others in hard times, especially around the holiday season.
This fundraising campaign is benefiting Samaritan’s Purse to filter monetary assistance back to the Philippines. Shopping in Weaver’s market from December 16 to 31 will support the fundraiser in that 5 percent of all retail sales will be contributed to this cause.
A way to donate directly is through Samaritan’s Purse and the Weaver’s Orchard Fundraising Page.
In an article released by Bloomberg News this week, a figure of $8.2 billion was named for the latest projection of reconstruction costs for the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) swept through the country.
Castner lived in the province of Eastern Samar in the Philippines until the age of 22. In 2004, she moved to the United States. Some things she misses most about where she grew up are the beach, coconuts, warm weather and swimming in the local river in the summertime.
While she enjoys spending her days contributing with her baking team in preparing pies, loaves of bread, muffins, cookies, brownies and other sweet treats, one detail she misses about her homeland is the caring and close relationships of her culture with neighbors, all revolving around food.
“I miss the culture where I can just go to our neighbors’ yards and pick some vegetables,” Castner said. She describes it as an amiable give and take situation. “We can borrow things without hesitation. I can borrow small things like a needle, you know, small stuff, or if we run out of rice, or if I need a clove of garlic, I could just run to our neighbor.”
Castner notes that neighbors offer leftovers willingly and help out in any way they can in supporting each other.
“If we sometimes prepare more food than what we need for a meal, we share it with neighbors as well,” she says. “That’s the most difficult thing for me to adjust to living here in America—you may have a very nice neighbor, but it’s still kind of a distant relationship. If you run out of things, you need to go to the grocery store.”
Castner’s immediate family lives several hours away from one of the worst-hit areas, Tacloban City, but even so, the damage and destruction still made an indelible impact in the area where she grew up. And emergency aid is not necessarily reaching towns on the outskirts of ground zero-designated areas hit in the worst concentration by the typhoon.
She has three sets of relatives who resided in Tacloban City and survived but lost a lot from the typhoon. Since she studied school in the city for several years, she has a good number of friends there as well. Seeing pictures they posted online of their homes and neighborhoods showed her how bad it truly had become, as many of them had lost their homes.
Her father farms bananas, coconut, pineapples and some tropical vegetables, but the primary source of income in her home region is copra, which she describes as the dried meat or kernel of coconut–an integral commodity in her country.
Castner’s father’s crops were wiped out by the typhoon. She explains that corpa takes 10 years of growing before it can be harvested.
“Farmers who grew corpa are so devastated, so now they don’t know where get money to feed their families,” she says.
“The day before the typhoon, it was my father’s 70th birthday, so because of this, my family and relatives gathered to celebrate the event,” she adds.
Even her sister who lives several hours away in Victoria, Northern Samar ventured to see everyone but fortunately made it home in time before the weather turned for the worse.
Castner says she reaches out to her sister most often to keep in touch because phone and internet signals near her father’s home are not very good.
After hearing about the typhoon on the news, it took Castner several days to be able to get word back from her relatives in the Philippines about whether or not they were okay and what had happened to them.
“Every time I turned on the news, it was all about the typhoon in the Philippines,” Castner says. “I couldn’t sleep for a few nights; sometimes I just cried at work, but my co-workers are so nice though. They lift up my spirits all the time.”
She eventually discovered that her father had remained safe during the typhoon and that while he lost his crops, he roof was left partially intact.
Her father had sent her oldest brother, who resides in Manila, to drive to see if her sister and brother-in-law in Victoria were okay. What normally took a five-hour drive took him more than eight hours on the road.
So much debris littered the road, and her brother barely recognized where he was in trying to reach their sister who fortunately had been alright and only sustained minimal damage at her home.
“My sister gathered food and medicine to send back to my dad’s place. I was worried about my brother going home because I heard some rumors that there were groups of looters who take all your food and whatever you have. They said it was a group of a gangs and some were NPA’s—a rebel group.”
Her brother fortunately made it back safely, without trouble.
“I hope that after people read my stories, it will urge them to give donations to the victims,” Castner says. “After all, it’s Christmas season, and it’s truly is a time for giving.”
“I feel so blessed. I am very thankful that they are doing this for my country,” Castner reflects on Weaver’s Orchard doing this fundraiser after hearing about her loved ones back home through her own talks with them.
Castner says her own immediate family is not who needs help the most, but her other relatives who lost their homes and incomes, and so many like them, are in the most devastating times of their lives.
“There are more people who will need it the most,” Castner says about help and in hoping those who visit Weaver’s Orchard and know the market well will donate in any way they can.
For more information about donating to the Philippines Fundraiser for these needs, visit this page.