While traveling through Asia and at the hearing of typhoon Yolanda’s approaching in November 2013, my wife and I decided to head toward The Philippines and try our best to help. At a local food store, we bought several tons of food, hauled them to a delayed ferry, and smuggled gasoline in a water cooler for hours as only condition to get picked up upon arrival.
The ferry was packed with concerned people for their friends and families. All of Isabelle’s siblings were in Ormoc, waiting for any help whatsoever. It was intense already. To stay calm, armed with colored crayons, I began to design a logo over the white tee-shirts I had bought earlier, and although we had no websites yet, It read: www.ormocrelief.org.
We landed proudly wearing the shirts and poured the gasoline in her brother’s car tank. We bought several tons of rice through her brother’s farmer’s network and distributed all from a small church. No one had food and everyone was desperately hungry. From donations, we organized a network of homebuilders in an attempt to rebuild some of the most destroyed, or poorest. We could only repair 70 homes, but enough to provide a roof over many children’s head.
We returned the following year for another typhoon and saw how much big companies had taken from the people, often forcing them out of their own land for a handful of pesos, or continued to deviate the course of rivers for profit, or destroy the riverbanks to create cement. In either case, the farmer is the one losing; his rice field lacked natural irrigation leading corporation to buy it for almost nothing and then plant Golden Rice or Bit Corn – the two ‘golden’ GMO products of Monsanto. Although The Philippines is vastly qualified as the most “pro-gmo” country in Asia, when asked the question:
“I hope you are not planting GMOs?”, most would reply: “GMO…I have heard of it…what is it again?“
From then on, we begun to plant cassava on a few hectares, and were approached by organic food distributors for the pig and cow industries interested in our environmental approach and ready to purchase larger quantities.
Then we became farmers.
While applying for a non-profit, tax deductible (501 C-3) status in DC and with the IRS, we continued our work on the ground and the seed distribution to a dozen of farmers sprayed around 130 acres of land.
As of November 2015, the IRS granted our status and we can now accept tax deductible donations.