Operation Blessing’s David Darg, vice president of international operations, is back on the ground in the Philippines two months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the small community of Pagnamitan.
EASTERN SAMAR, Philippines – I’m writing from a small wooden house that was partially destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, and right now we’re in the middle of a massive storm that has been named cyclone Agaton.
The house is shaking and the tarp roof is flapping and straining. I’ve had to position my net in one of the few dry patches where the roof isn’t leaking. And this is luxury compared to what some are sleeping in tonight. I’ve never experienced rain this heavy so prolonged like this. It has been pouring for the last three days; we’re hoping this is the peak and tomorrow it will break. Although frightening, the storm is only a fraction of the strength of Haiyan so we’re not in real danger. But nevertheless, the residents here are tense and afraid — after Haiyan they don’t know what to expect.
Most of the approximately 250 residents of Pagnamitan are now living in temporary shelters. This above photo is of Waldo, a fisherman, and his family. They are in a single-room, temporary structure and, like most shelters here, right now the sheet metal siding is clattering in the wind, the rain is leaking in and the kids are afraid.
Operation Blessing is helping Waldo and many of the fishermen here with new boats thanks to a partnership with Pinoy Relief, a fund set up by a Filipino businessman in the U.S. Best of all, Waldo and his family will soon get a solid transitional home from Operation Blessing.
OB Philippines teams are conducting medical and dental clinics for the kids in Pagnamitan and other locations throughout the disaster zone, where children like Waldo’s little girl are able to get a check-up.
Pagnamitan kids play on wrecked playground equipment on the grounds of their school, which lays destroyed in the background. Operation Blessing will be rebuilding the school so these children can continue their education.
I recently came across a fragment of a fishing boat that was painted “God is my…”. The rest was missing, but for the residents of Pagnamitan, there are so many words that could complete the phrase: protector, provider, shelter are a few that I’ve heard in the last few days.
Even with their homes, livelihood and church destroyed, even with so many killed, the faith of the community has not been shaken.
A fisherman stands on the spot where his home once stood, showing how high the storm surge was that swept it away. His fish spears were the only things he was able to save before his house was washed away. He now lives in a tent and sent his wife and kids to live with relatives until he gets things in order. Fortunately that will happen sooner than he expected with a home and boat from Operation Blessing.
We have two bangka for our livelihood project ready to launch, and as soon as the weather breaks we’re going fishing. When the storm passes, we’ll also continue our house building project and the installation of a desalinator, which will provide safe drinking water to the whole community.