Joe Lowry

The Astrodome’s King of Bling

By Joe Lowry in Tacloban
06 February 2014

After almost three months sitting around, Benjie Amores decided it was time to go back to work. He hadn’t been completely idle – there was the small matter of helping his family overcome the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, move from a wrecked convention centre into a tent, and from a tent into a shack, queue for relief assistance, find medical help when needed and so on.

A Roof Over Their Heads

By Joe Lowry in Tacloban, Central Philippines
09 December 2013

The story of Yolanda, one month on

By Joe Lowry, in Tacloban, Central Philippines

On 8 November, 18-year-old Marike Malate, heavily pregnant, was at home with her parents and her husband Johnel Loreta, also 18, in Tacloban, Central Philippines. They knew a strong typhoon was coming, but were unprepared for the full fury of Haiyan (local name Yolanda.)

IOM Active at Typhoon Ground Zero


A young girl stands near the devastation of the central Philippine city of Tacloban. © IOM 2013 (Photo by Conrad Navidad)

By Joe Lowry in Tacloban

Tens of thousands still displaced in southern Philippines


© Kerwin Baldovino 2013

By Joe Lowry

Just under two months ago, the historic town of Zamboanga, in the southern Philippines, exploded in a frenzy of violence as fighters from the Moro National Liberation Front clashed with Government forces. The city was paralysed for several days and still bears heavy scars from the fighting. Scores of soldiers, militants and civilians were killed and one in six residents in this city of 775,000 fled their homes.

Zamboanga still chaotic weeks after violent clashes


Omal Gani, born by the side of the road in Zamboanga

By Joe Lowry

Meet Omal. He was born on the side of the road 12 days ago, his mother pushing him out in a rapid 45-minute labour. Motorbikes, trucks and cars screamed by, inches from the newborn’s head. Aged just 22, Misbah Gani is now mother to four bright-eyed kids under the age of 10. They live in a one-metre-high lean-to - a temporary shelter next to a petrol station that is sweltering, noisy and full of exhaust fumes.

Dream dashed, lives on hold in Philippines quake zone


By Joe Lowry

Rita Elatabelo’s world has fallen apart twice in the last seven months.

Two years ago she retired after 44 years in the capital Manila, and moved back to her native village on the island of Bohol with her husband and one of her sons. Over the past ten years they had been building their dream retirement home, in the little village of Libertad, their corner of paradise. But just as they were getting settled, her husband passed away.

After the rain


By Joe Lowry in the northern Marshall Islands

It’s raining in Taroa Island; a warm, lush, tropical rain which feels more like a benediction than a penance. Washing away inequity. The sandy soil gurgles with pleasure, the roofs and water storage tanks thrum their applause.

I am 120 miles, a 16-hour sea journey from the capital of the Marshall Islands, halfway between the end of the Asian landmass and the beginning of America. As far east as the furthest tip of Russia. On a tiny, palm-fringed dot of coral, poking out of a million square kilometers of the vast and mighty Pacific.

Pacific Island Youth Tackle Climate Change


By Joe Lowry in the Marshall Islands

The  Majuro Protocol for the Survival of humankind has been signed! Countries have agreed to work together to meet the challenges of climate change, lower emissions, fund adaptation and meet half their energy needs with renewable energy by 2050. 

This isn’t breaking news on CNN, but it may mark a hopeful note for the future. For the signatories of the (non-binding) protocol were students of high schools, at the first Model United Nations simulation ever held in the Marshall Islands.

Checking in at the Refugee Hotel


By Joe Lowry

Ever been to New York? Was your first sight of it the gleaming Manhattan skyline? Lady Liberty? My first time in the Big Apple I just glimpsed some high-rises in the smog as my Virgin Airlines flight bounced through the clouds and smog into Newark on a wet November day in 1991.