Written By Neyzielle Ronnicque Cadiz, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines
Growing up in Barangay Japitan, Dolores, Eastern Samar where most families make a living from the sea, Emmarie Bantelan, 42, and her family experienced how their source of livelihood became an angry foe for the first time.
One late afternoon, Emmarie found herself rescuing her mother Aleja Capito, 72, and mother-in-law Flora Bantelan, 75, whose houses were both blown by the strong wind of typhoon Ruby (internationally named Hagupit).
“My mother is deaf, and I could not stop myself from crying when I saw her sitting in her favorite spot in the house, confused and scared of the surreal swaying of her house’s roof and walls. I found my mother-in-law seeking shelter in her mini sari-sari store, praying. Her house was a complete wreck. But I knew God was present, and I thank Him that nanay managed to get out despite her weak stature.”
That time, her husband braved the strong wind to secure their tricycle—which is their family’s other source of income– while her eldest child was left to temporarily look after Emmarie’s other children.
The agony lasted for almost six hours and they saw how the big waves smashed most of their neighbor’s houses that are made from light materials. “That was the first time we were complete and gathered together to pray,” she added.
She said that she never expected her mother to ask the Lord for salvation because they were all soaking wet because the roof of their house was already blown away. The Lord indeed answers the prayers of the ones who need him the most because just minutes after Nanay Aleja lowered her voice to pray, rescuers came to sight.
“I didn’t want to leave my family; the military men who came here to rescue us could not accommodate us all in the truck. I insisted on staying, but then I saw my baby trembling. I feared for her life and asked the rescuers to bring with me my two youngest children instead because children were the priority. Prayer really works,” shared Emmarie.
The moment the authorities allowed them to go home, she found the members of her family trembling because of fever, cough, and colds.
“I didn’t know what to do. We did not have enough savings to buy generic medicines. The only money we had was allocated for our food, which I didn’t know how long would last. I was still holding on to my faith, and then you came.”
Operation Blessing reached Dolores two days after typhoon Ruby hit communities of Eastern Visayas (when all roads going to the town were passable). Medical missions were conducted in different parts of the region.
Emmarie and her two youngest children received multivitamins and other medicines not only for them but for their whole family. Nanay Aleja and Nanay Flora also received multivitamins and tablets for their high blood pressure medication.
“Thank you for showing us that you care and that there are still people out there who would always pray for us. Your presence is enough. You are the answers to our prayers,” Nanay Flora said smiling.
The disaster response effort of OB in Eastern Visayas through medical mission benefited a total of 2,103 people to date. In Barangay Japitan alone, 175 individuals received free medicines that addressed their health needs. A Superbook screening was also done as a form of trauma counseling for the children.
Help us answer the prayers of many more. Through your help, we will be able to assist more of our disaster-stricken fellowmen. Call us at 477-7802 to 04 to inspire change!