August 11

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The Aftermath of Yolanda: Seeing The Faces We Help

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), struck the Philippines. It is considered the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history. Yolanda affected 1,473,251 families, with a casualty count of 6,300. This storm was devastating and my Pulse buddy, Vivian, was in the Philippines when this super typhoon occurred. She was instrumental in helping survivors afterward.

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Just this week, a UN study found that Yolanda survivors are still vulnerable two years after storm. This report stated, ‘The Philippines has not done enough to rebuild after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), as thousands remain in shanties without power or water for nearly two years.’

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Many storm survivors in Eastern Visayas have had to endure relocating to evacuation camps up to three times since Yolanda struck in 2013, and the sub-standard housing leaves them vulnerable to future typhoons. I have seen the box-like shanties storm survivors are living in. It robs them of their privacy and dignity as they struggle to rebuild their lives.

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I had my own close encounter with heavy rain this past weekend. I was on a tiny boat with two girlfriends traveling from a small island to the mainland.

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The sky looked cloudy but not especially stormy as we prepared for our thirty minute journey.

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Once we were out on the ocean, a horrific rainfall ensued. There was zero visibility and the boat captain thought it best for us to sit there to wait out the storm. He was amazingly calm.

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Water had to be scooped out of the boat. I felt absolutely terrified. Thankfully the rain passed in a few minutes and we continued to the mainland.

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I used the time to pray and reflect on the poor people who take a direct typhoon hit. They have not only rain, but severe winds and high waves. Their resilience is simply unbelievable compared to this American.

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Part of my work at Save The Children is capturing the faces of survivors of such tragedies and how they are coping in the aftermath. I undertake photo sessions and interview beneficiaries. Then I share these stories with external companies and internal staff who donate to our causes.

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Recently, I spoke to a Yolanda survivor. Charito had the most touching story of survival and using assistance to better oneself. These words touched me to my core. I could really see first hand that our projects don’t just save lives. Save The Children Assistance does create sustainable change. I’ll let Charito tell you how.

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“Dear Maryanne – team of Sparebucks4change,
It is nice to be blessed and be a blessing, so I thank you as well for this opportunity. I am one of those Yolanda survivor and I have witnessed how Save the Children helped us, during the aftermath of the super typhoon. In fact, for what I am today, I owe it to Save the Children. You are one of those instruments that had helped me to become a Medical Graduate and hopefully become a licensed physician someday.”

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My work at Save is so rewarding as it enables me to personally touch these people we help. It is a wonderful feeling to know that your work contribution is changing lives. Each employee here is giving their blood, sweat and tears for the welfare of the children we serve. They have passion for their jobs. This starts from the Country Director, Ned, down to each employee.

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I have always believed that work empowerment begins with yourself. I hope each of you can also find a newfound appreciation for your work too. Vaccines save lives. Daily brushing and flossing maintains one’s quality of life and oral health. Meet a patient or person your work assists. Listen to their story. Be revitalised in your role and the people you are helping.

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