At 82-years-old, Valentin Acra is the second oldest person in the island village of Binaly in the Philippines.

He and his wife Mercedes were both born and raised in the village and have brought up five children there.

Raging storm

When Typhoon Melor approached the island during Christmas 2015, the couple were warned to seek the safety of higher ground and even to consider leaving altogether.

However, they had heard this warning many times before and their little island had always escaped the worst of the storms.

The couple decided to stay in their home, but after a night of heavy rains, the wind started blowing so hard that the roof began to come apart.

At this point, they fled their home to the local primary school. More than 400 people were crammed into the two concrete buildings as the storm raged overhead.

Strongest storm ever experienced

The category 4 typhoon caused catastrophic damage across several parts of the Philippines.

Wind reached speeds of almost 200 mph, while homes, crops and livelihoods were totally destroyed in many communities.

In Binaly, one of the first places to be hit, the storm persisted for four hours. It was the strongest storm that Mercedes and Valentin had ever experienced.

Nothing left

Miraculously, none of the villagers were hurt, but no home escaped damage. There was nothing left of Mercedes and Valentin’s home.

Mercedes was devastated, as they had no way of rebuilding their home.

What are we going to do? We are so old and we have no money.

Valentin Acra

Tools, materials and skills

We provided the couple, and other families in the village, with a ShelterKit to help them rebuild their home. The kit was made up of locally-sourced materials including a hammer, a saw, a shovel and corrugated iron sheeting, which could be used as walls and roofing materials.

Along with materials, we showed the community different ways in which the materials could be used. Not just techniques to rebuild, but to build safer, more resilient shelters that would stand firm in the face of future storms.


Receiving the ShelterKit completely changed the couple’s outlook. With the tools to start rebuilding, along with support from their community, they had hope for the future and Mercedes was overjoyed.

Working 365 days a year

Natural disasters and conflicts never take days off, and neither do we – we’ve responded to 20 disasters in the Philippines alone in the last six years.

Your support means that we can continue to provide relief from disasters and spread hope to communities that are vulnerable to disaster, wherever they are.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. ShelterBox was the answer to my prayers.

Valantin Acra