With pre-emptive measures in place, 436 families were evacuated from ChildFund-supported communities in Luna and Flora in preparation for Typhoon Mangkhut.

These families were relocated to evacuation centres where ChildFund and partner organisations are providing food packs and other essentials.

ChildFund Philippines’ country office closely monitored the development of the typhoon as it approached landfall, and worked closely with local partner organisations to prepare for its arrival.

A team from ChildFund Philippines is travelling to the area to assess the needs of children and families affected by the storm.

If needed, ChildFund will deploy emergency response teams to provide food, clean water and child-centred spaces for children.

Typhoon Mangkhut has caused significant damage and destruction on the Philippines’ largest island Luzon. Wind speeds were reportedly up to 285 kilometres an hour.

The typhoon was called the world’s strongest storm this year, and has already displaced more than 58,000 families across the Philippines.

We will update you when we know more about the impact on children, families and communities in the Philippines.

Where Ronnie Alonzo comes from, there are friendly and smiling people everywhere.

The coastal city of Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, in southern Philippines, is known for its happy and generous people.

“The city is dubbed the ‘City of Golden Friendship’,” Ronnie says.

“It is ingrained in the psyche of anyone who was born from that place, to share the gift of friendship wherever you may go.”

Today, Ronnie carries this ethos with him at ChildFund Australia, where he works in Sydney with the international program team to help vulnerable communities around the world.

In some ways it was inevitable he would choose a career in international aid; his own family had been part of a struggling community and had been supported by ChildFund sponsors.

The striking difference between his childhood and those of his mother’s, aunts’ and uncles’ in the Philippines has been a key source of inspiration in his work, he says.

Ronnie’s lola and lolo (grandparents) raised his mother and six other children in the sleepy, agricultural town of Aloran, west of Cagayan de Oro. The community of rice farmers, including Ronnie’s grandparents, spent their days cultivating flat, volcanic fields to survive.

His mother, aunts and uncles never had enough food to eat, and having a decent education and finishing school was a luxury, not a norm.

It wasn’t until ChildFund’s sponsorship program began in Aloran that things began to change in the community, and for Ronnie’s lola and lolo.

When three of Ronnie’s aunts and uncles were sponsored – his aunties Mercy and Joven, and uncle Elmer – the financial pressures of keeping all seven children fed and schooled finally eased.

Life was “really challenging” before being sponsored, remembers Joven.

“There were seven of us, and mama and papa, no matter how hard they worked, struggled to put food on the table,” she says. “How could they send us all to high school?

“Sponsorship was a great help.”

Mercy remembers her parents running meetings as volunteers to initiate community development activities with fellow farmers.

The support from ChildFund sponsors benefited the entire community and meant families had more food to eat and sell, and were able to grow their farming businesses and keep their children in school.

Within a generation the community’s fortune had changed.