When a typhoon meets people even stronger than him

Thursday 24 October 2019

Last Tuesday, a lunch debate was held with climate activist Joanna Sustento. The lunch debate was jointly organised by Greenpeace and Caritas Luxembourg.

Since losing a large part of her family to the typhoon that struck the Philippines in November 2013, Joanna Sustento has been travelling the world to tell her story, raise awareness about climate change and empower companies.

Before this November 2013, announcements of typhoons approaching the Philippine coast were either ignored or considered good news. Schools closed, you could stay at home, with your family, some were happy to be able to enjoy the beautiful waves on the beach, etc... No one imagined the consequences of the typhoon that would strike the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Within a few hours, Joanna Sustento's entire community was destroyed, including a large part of her family.

Returning to life after this tragedy was only possible for Joanna Sustento when she realized the importance of telling what had happened to her community. Today, she travels the world to testify that climate change is indeed a reality in the Philippines and that behind climate change there is the story of thousands of people - children, mothers, fathers, entire families - who have lost everything.

In the Philippines, we cannot afford to ask ourselves the question if climate change really exists because we are too busy trying to survive one disaster after another," says Joanna Sustento.

At the same time, Joana is proud that her community, which is rebuilding itself, is now among the leaders in the fight for climate justice.

If the thyphoon that struck my country in November 2013 was among the strongest in history, you should know that it met people even stronger than him! "she concluded.

During the lunch debate, Michael Feit, Head of International Cooperation at Caritas Luxembourg, explained that while Caritas Luxembourg was there from the beginning, in the Philippines, to help the population by distributing basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter) and participating in reconstruction efforts, it was clear to Caritas Luxembourg not only that climate change must be taken into account in reconstruction projects, but also that advocacy work in Luxembourg for climate justice is essential.

We are in Luxembourg both part of the Philippines' problem and part of the answer at the same time. »

Photo from left to right; Myrna Koster, Legal Consultant at Greenpeace, Joanna Sustento, and Ana-Luisa Teixeira, Responsible for Caritas Luxembourg "Plaidons responsable" programme

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