News From Linda on the Front Line

Today has been a day of tears. Another remote forgotten village.


Mothers relieved that help is, at last, near and fathers who cannot contain the stress anymore. It’s worse here than I thought it would be out of the 592 households in a remote village on the north western tip of Ilolio 457 households lost everything. – typhoon Yolanda destroyed not only their homes but their way of feeding their families, their livelihood.


10 weeks after the typhoon hit 90% do not have adequate shelter. The electricity pylons hang over roads and dwellings at a precarious 45 degree angle – there is still no electricity.


Prioritizing the families, who we help first, is getting very hard – as they are all so in need. But I have enlisted teachers and village leaders to identify the women and children most as risk. And from day one I have the most wonderful Filipino angel, Maritess Lim, who is being my guide and translator. God always sends me a jewel!


One of the many families I met today: Alberto, the father is a fisherman whose boat was destroyed during the typhoon, his source of income disappearing along with it. Melanie his wife, thin and pale cried as she spoke of the love of her four children and her worry each day of how to feed them – 4yr old Irene, 11yr Ian, 13yr Oliver and 15yr Lalaine.


I was there when Ian came home from school. When I asked him what worried him, he replied that it was the lack of food for his siblings. Melanie, the Mum, shared that they live off boiled coconut milk, rice and vegetables, little else.


Three months after the typhoon hit, they still only have a tarpaulin as a temporary roof to throw over the remnants of their destroyed bamboo house – all six of them sleeping on a small bamboo slat in their one tiny remaining room. No bathroom or washing area.


Alberto is desperate to get back to work and earn money – to replace his boat. This will enable him to feed his family and to rebuild his home.


It is humbling to hear of such courage as the villagers talk of the day the typhoon hit, the terrible noise, the water rising, nowhere safe to shelter. Falling to the ground, crawling on their hands and knees to find refuge. For 8 hours clutching their children and loved ones, crouched under a table or knelt against a wall not daring to move as lethal sheets of metal roofing was hurled around by the ferocious wind. No food, no water.


The deep seated trauma of the disaster is there in the eyes of the people, but their resilience is burning through.


They greeted me a smile. With love and kindness and they welcomed me and shared whatever they had.


Medical problems are being brought to me, this is a lost forgotten village where few foreigners go – Aime 8 yrs old– with a cleft palate – walks barefoot one hour to school and one hour back she is so determined to be learn and be educated.


I arrived back to base dirty, with an ever growing number of mosquito bites and a growling complaining stomach (maybe just too many flies got to the food first) determined to get up earlier tomorrow to identify and prioritize more families.  457 need help…and that is just in this village.


Onwards and ever upwards…


Sending lots of love,


Linda on the frontline post Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines xxx