During 30th Nov – 3th Dec, I joined a witness trip with Save the Children HK to Tacloban City, Philippines where was smashed by the super typhoon, Haiyan last year. I expected we would visit some schools or some facilities focused on helping children. However, I found its projects were much more than I expected. I was impressed by the in-depth projects which fulfilled the needs of different communities. And I really appreciate Save the Children could take care both physical and mental needs of victims.
On the first day of visit, we went to meet with key barangay officials to know more about the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in their community and the assistances they received from Save the Children. They told us they received two emergency kits, one for household and one for hygiene. And they could list out what exact things inside the kits. I think that was treasure to them at that moment, so they could recall so clearly. They also told us Save the Children was the first NGO reached them and their government didn’t give any assistance to them in the past year. Without Save the Children, they couldn’t resume their basic living. That’s why we could feel their sincerely thank to us during the meeting. And I was very pleased to see their perseverance to overcome adversity. They could even smile when talking about the horrible time.
After the trip, I find people living there are very simple and optimistic. They feel happy just because they have food to eat, have place to stay, their children can go to school. However, these simple wills still cannot be retained. They still need help from others to teach or assist them to overcome disasters in future because the development in this city is really fall behind.
After Manila hostage in 2010, I won’t go to Philippines for vocation personally. But I hope we can share our goodness to the people there because they are so unlucky. And I also think there should be no discrimination on saving life.
The cyclic nature of natural disasters has been an unavoidable phenomenon in the natural hazards-prone areas, and that could bring massive destruction to a country which requires many years to rebuild and recover. It not only disrupts the lives of the people who might have already suffered from poverty, but also erodes their hope for a better future which turned into a totally unknown. We have been hearing many of these stories from time to time, yet we normally won’t react and just leave our personal sympathy hiding in a place that you will rarely revisit again. For the very first time, I joined Save the Children Hong Kong for a 4-day field visit to Tacloban in Philippines. It was an eye-opening experience. I was like everyone who has also read the news last year, reported the place was devastated by the Typhoon Haiyan on the 8th of November 2013, whereby millions of people suffered and became homeless overnight. For I believe God has a reason for allowing things happen, we may never understand and not even find a clue. Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place. It happens in Tacloban.
Through the amazing work of Save the Children’s field workers and their integrated recovery programs, the place is now on the road of recovery and has better resilience against future disasters. Most importantly, it brings them hope and simple happiness in life. The most frequently heard message when we visited different places and interacted with the locals was “Thank you, thank you, thank you …... “. What we have done could be small, the impact to them is tremendous and life changing. We always say children are the pillars and future of a country, and education is essential. When we visited the hard hit areas where schools were swept away by the typhoon and school children had no place to study, we could hardly imagine what would be the future of this place. Those days have gone.
By now, we are glad to see primary schools rebuilt, learning kits were provided, teachers were trained, and community-based psychosocial support was provided to the children who suffered from loss of their homes and families. We have been welcomed by all those smileys who genuinely expressed their joy and heartfelt thanks to us and especially the work of Save the Children through their singing and dance performances. In the “Child Friendly Space”, schoolchildren can play and draw freely, and talk about their dreams! Things are putting back into place again.
There is a mission statement of Save the Children in times of emergency response: “Children can’t wait”. Shall we still wait?