Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan – What I saw on my first day
This morning I was the rookie of the team and as we headed out for the second day of our rapid needs assessment, I was not sure what to expect. The further we drove towards our destination, the community of Concepcion, the worse the destruction got. The car was quiet as we witnessed the scenery turn from urban sprawl, to green rice fields, to a tangled mess of shattered houses, fallen power lines and uprooted trees. The devastation was clear – barely any house, land or tree had been spared, but it was hearing people’s stories that really hit home. We met with families, social workers, mayors and people with disability. No matter who they were, everyone had a story. For many, they talked about how afraid they were and how much they had lost. I felt humbled by their willingness to share their stories, and also by their high spirits. But the pain was raw and very real and for many it was too difficult to talk about the future.
The team told me that today was the first day it has not rained in Iloilo since the Typhoon hit five days ago. As the team headed home from a long day, I couldn’t help but notice that drying laundry hung everywhere. Littered among the rubble, draped along fallen tree trunks and hanging over fallen power lines were rows of clothes – from men’s shirts to tiny children’s clothes. It was a small piece of normality among a landscape of destruction. And in an odd way, I found it comforting. It was a reminder that in the aftermath of a crisis, we slowly go back to our simple tasks. One small task at a time.