The Lows and Highs of Surviving Typhoon Haiyan

After the devastating winds of Typhoon Haiyan finally calmed, 8-year-old John Dave and his mother, Melo, decided to go back home to see what happened to their shanty.

“I didn’t keep my hopes up,” Melo said. “I could see that all the trees were torn down and halved as we slowly walked home.”

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Their home was gone. Most homes in their tiny town of Bogo, Cebu, are made of coco-lumber and bamboo. The people here didn’t have much before the typhoon, and now all they have is rubble. But John Dave got a wonderful surprise.

As he searched through the rubble, he found his favourite toy—a tiny plastic robot—in one piece. He began looking for others, and soon he had a pile of his old plastic toys. “All my toys are safe,” he smiled.

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Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan like John Dave are learning to look for the highs after the many lows they have experienced. Compassion Philippines’ staff have also experienced the emotional ups and downs. After the typhoon, our staff feared the worst. Everyone in Manila, along with the rest of the world, saw the wrath of Haiyan. The Philippine government estimated the number of deaths at more than 10,000.

Many of Compassion Philippines’ sponsored children living in the worst-hit areas lived near the shoreline in flimsy homes. No one said it out loud, but everyone thought sponsored children must have died. But they got a wonderful surprise. So far not one death of a Compassion-assisted child has been reported.

At the same time, the material loss is great. More than 19,000 Compassion-assisted children live in the area hit by the typhoon, and the homes of more than 7,000 are estimated to have been damaged or destroyed. Thousands are now living in tents or makeshift houses put together with scraps of wood salvaged from what used to be their homes.

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“Everybody is in survival mode,” said Alex Abuda, Compassion’s Partnership Facilitator in the affected areas. “Even the church leaders, the church workers and volunteers are victims of the disaster.”

And yet, they are still dedicating themselves to helping those around them. All Compassion’s staff for these areas have left their homes in Manila to coordinate relief efforts from Cebu. Relief goods are being delivered to our church partners throughout the affected areas, allowing families to receive desperately needed provisions like food, medicine, hygiene supplies, blankets and clothes.

Compassion Philippines staff have volunteered to work after hours to pack relief goods to be sent on to families in need. In fact, even sponsored children from Manila are helping out by packing relief goods.

A medical mission has also been carried out, coordinated by Compassion Philippines, in which more than 1,000 people were treated by volunteer doctors from Manila. According to our Compassion Philippines Country Director, Noel Pabiona, “The people are amazed at the kindness of Christians, and the doctors are all praises for the [Compassion] team.”

But with all these victories, there are still many challenges to overcome. In many areas, there is still no communication as there is no electricity. This makes it difficult for our church partners to communicate their needs or updates on their situation.

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But despite the difficulties, our staff are rejoicing that the children are safe and progress is being made. John Dave understands this feeling. Living in what used to be his tiny kitchen which somehow remained standing through the typhoon, he plays with his toys and talks as if he doesn’t mind not having a house anymore.

Please continue to stand by our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and pray God will continue to provide for their needs.


Story and photos by Edwin Estioko

Written by: Compassion Canada