Disaster Response Batanes: When Help Goes A Long Way

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“The Lord really hears and sees our needs, especially those who were affected by disasters.”

These were the words of Clenita, 69, when she received the relief packs that were provided by Operation Blessing’s generous donors for the affected-families of Itbayat, Batanes Islands.

Clenita clearing the side of their house.

Clenita and her husband have been staying in their tent for 31 days now since the recent earthquake damaged their 55-year-old ancestral house, made of limestone. Their old house was built by their fathers.

Clenita’s husband retrieves some of the things at home that were buried by the earthquake.

“The first night that I stayed in our tent at the plaza, I cannot sleep the whole night. There were 17 aftershocks from 9 in the evening until 4 early in the morning,” Clenita remembered.

To make matters worse, a typhoon passed through Batanes Islands on their second night of staying at the plaza, in their tents. A week after, the open area was instructed to be cleared for the use of the students who will resume their classes.

“After a number of days, we were advised that we need to evacuate the open area because, of the resumption of classes. Then we started to build a tent in front of our damaged house,” Clenita continued, “I cannot sleep well. I just whispered a prayer that the Lord would give me strength.”

Since then Clenita and all the other almost 1000 families have been relying on relief goods to sustain them in the next days while they are still rebuilding their house and their lives.

“I was impressed when there was prayer first before they gave out the relief packs. Thank you very much for all the help even it is very difficult to reach us because of the sea transportation and the weather condition,” Clenita said happily.

Clenita joins the queue at the relief distribution site.

Clenita, a retired English teacher, now works for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Program for the Senior Citizen as a street sweeper. The local government provides job opportunity for senior citizens to help sustain their daily needs at home. Her husband is a farmer. Her children all have their own families now.

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