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On January 22 at New Moon Cafe, Burlington-based international development firms Resonance and TetraTech ARD hosted a fundraiser event for rebuilding efforts in the Philippines following last November’s Typhoon Haiyan. Our two organizations currently collaborate on a sustainable fisheries project called ECOFISH (Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries) in eight coastal Philippine communities, making the Burlington fundraiser a fitting endeavor.

While Haiyan was a major blow to the area, we are continuing with our work on ECOFISH to form strategic and community partnerships as the project enters its second year. Resonance is linking ECOFISH project resources with leading multinational and Philippine companies, business associations, foundations, and government agencies. We are advancing ECOFISH goals through public private collaboration. We are addressing local needs by collaborating with stakeholders such as municipal governments, SMEs, fishing cooperatives, and a range of CBOs. We focus on improving livelihoods by strengthening community business planning for ventures such as value-added production, aquatic farming, and ecotourism development.

The fundraising event proved a powerful collaboration of Vermont-based community members and organizations. We were extremely proud and motivated by the outpouring support of over 100 Vermonters braving sub-zero cold to support the initiative.

During the fundraiser, we spoke by Skype with Gerry Silvestre, the ECOFISH project Chief of Party. Mr. Silvestre spoke to guests about the impact of the typhoon, especially on fishermen and their destroyed boats. He also touched on how the Philippine government and private sector have been able to provide only about 10% of what is realistically needed for a full recovery.

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The fundraiser would not have been possible without the support and donations from New Moon Cafe, not only for their venue, but also for their amazing staff and food donations. Food and silent auction items were also donated by Zero Gravity Beer, City Market, Mirabelle’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee, Frog Hollow, Stowe and Bolton ski resorts as well as many others. Notable Burlington bands Mint Julep and Nowa Randall Crosby with Franky Andreas donated their musical talent.

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We raised over $3000, making it clear that Vermonters understand what extreme weather can do to rural communities, from Irene to Haiyan. Donations from this event went towards the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Anscor, two non-profits in Coron, one of the many Philippine communities affected by the strongest typhoon ever known to hit land. PBSP and Anscor’s work provide essential goods and services to support relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts.