Written by Pia L. Camagay, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines / Photos by Frederick Deserva, Volunteer Photographer
It was a sunny day at Bariw National High School (BNHS). The open field offered a good view of Mayon. Despite the fact that the volcano was spewing out smoke, everything seemed calm – children were playing outside and the adults were going about their usual chores.
While everyone was busy preparing for lunchtime, 34-year old Baby Jane Nantes ran in panic to Operation Blessing’s (OB) medical station. She was carrying her son, Jayboy, who fell into a burning pile of leaves. OB’s medical team performed first aid to Jayboy before rushing him to the nearest open emergency facility, which was in Bicol Regional Hospital.
Longing for Home
Baby Jane, her husband, and their 6 children have been evacuating at BNHS for almost two months now. Their house in Barangay Quirangay is within the 7-km danger zone around Mayon. Baby Jane shares, “Pumatak sa amin ‘yung mga lava. Tas sa sobrang kakapal… [naging]sobrang maalikabok.” (The lava spilled over to our place. It was so thick… it got really dusty).
Like most evacuees in BNHS, Baby Jane and her children go back to Quirangay during daytime. Her husband works from Monday to Saturday and Baby Jane finds it hard to look after all their children by herself. She finds it easier to manage them at home than at the evacuation center.
One Friday afternoon, there had been another ashfall. The following morning, Baby Jane decided to clean up their yard by burning some of the dusty leaves. The children were innocently playing hide-and-seek when suddenly, Jayboy, the youngest, fell into the fire.
Baby Jane immediately scooped him up and carried him in her arms. She recalls, “Sobrang takot ko kasi pag karga ko talaga sa kanya sobrang init ng katawan niya. Pati nga rin ako umiiyak na.” (I was so scared because when I carried him, his body was so hot. We were both crying.) She asked their neighbor to look after her other children as she rushed Jayboy to the medical center in Quirangay. When she saw that it was closed, she immediately thought of going back to the medical station at the evacuation center.
OB’s Quick Response
When OB’s medical team saw Jayboy, they immediately gave him first aid and rushed him to the nearest hospital in Camalig. But it was also closed, so they drove all the way to Bicol Regional Hospital, which was about 15 kms. away from BNHS.
Operation Blessing assisted Baby Jane with the hospitalization process. The doctors attended to Jayboy immediately and they were able to finish up in a few minutes. OB’s medical team drove mother-and-son back to BNHS afterwards. Back at the medical station, Jayboy was given medicines and other medical supplies for his burns.
Baby Jane expresses her gratitude to Operation Blessing for helping them with the emergency. Their family is already struggling to stretch her husband’s income, especially because they have 6 children to feed. If Jayboy had not received free medical assistance, who knows where they would get their next meal?
“Sana marami pang tulong sa amin dumating. Kasi talagang… kung… baka tatagal pa kami, kakapusin talaga kami sa budget” (I hope more aid will come. Because if this goes on for long, we will really be short on budget), Baby Jane said.
Operation Blessing is working hard to reach as many evacuees as possible – providing them with food packs, hygiene kits, clothes, medical assistance, and psychosocial activities.
To provide the affected families with long-term support, OB is planning to give them free livelihood skills trainings. OB is also planning to help out with restoration of agricultural lands in Brgy. Quirangay.
As of this writing, Mayon is still spewing out smoke and thousands of families remain displaced indefinitely. Help us give them hope. Kindly go to http://bit.ly/2p89eL6 or call us at +632 477-7802 to 08 to learn more about giving to Disaster Response Mayon.