PHILIPPINES TYPHOON RELEIF
PHILIPPINES TYPHOON RELEIF
Ten days after one of the deadliest cyclones ever recorded in history hit the Philippines, Watts of Love was there delivering solar aid and proving HOPE and relief to the people of Bantayan Island.
Following the devastation, Kevin Kuster, Watts of Love's Creative Director, arrived on Bantayan Island to collaborate with Operation Blessing: Philippines, to administer solar light relief. From there, Kuster and members of Operation Blessing’s emergency response team sifted through the surrounding communities left in ruins to reach locals who had lost everything they had ever owned in the typhoon.
Father and daughter stand if front of their former home.
When Typhoon Haiyan struck Bantayan island, hundreds of people ran to the school for protection and looked to the principal to lead them.
During the typhoon, this mother and the youngest 7 of her 13 children stayed in this water jar for protection!
What remains of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish.
This newly-married couple agreed to pose for me with 10 of their combined 13 grandchildren.
Everything this girl’s family owned was blown away or destroyed in moments.
This family, despite their current living conditions, was more beautiful than any sunset I have ever seen.
Alberto and Isabel Tiongzon had lived in their small nipa hut for 51 years before it was destroyed. Currently, they are living in the shelter behind them with their two grandchildren, Rico and Rex. I struggle to even call it a shelter.
Che-Che is a 29-year-old single mother of two children. Here, she is burning many of her destroyed belongings so she can begin cleaning up and rebuilding.
As one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded in history and the deadliest to ever hit the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan affected more than 16 million people in a matter of hours, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The sheer strength and force of the storm registered as a Category 5–the highest and strongest tropical storm to ever make landfall, causing widespread flooding and extreme damage to infrastructure that severely impaired emergency relief efforts. Though the actual death toll remains unclear, USAID has confirmed 6,300 fatalities across the country, reporting that as of January 2014, bodies were still being recovered from the immense wreckage.
Of those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, an estimated 4.1 million survivors were displaced when their homes were completely destroyed, facing the immediate threats of contaminated drinking water, insufficient food supplies, untreated illnesses and injuries and a lack of fuel, shelter and sanitation materials.
“From one perspective, the devastation that occurred at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish was completely horrific! There was, however, a part of me that thought it was strangely beautiful that as I looked up I could see the sky open up to the heavens.” –Kevin Kuster
Typhoon Haiyan’s record-breaking wind speeds of more than 150 mph uprooted hundreds of thousands of bamboo trees and sent them crashing through the air.
Humanitarian agencies prioritize shelter and livelihood programs. As millions remain without power in the wake of the typhoon and are not expected to regain it for several more months, Watts of Love has committed to maintaining fundraising initiatives to deliver a minimum of 10,000 solar LED lanterns to the regions hit hardest in the Philippines.
Leorito Menlengit is able to begin rebuilding his destroyed home even after the sun descends with his new solar lights provided by Watts of Love.
This pastor stands in her church where more than 70% of the building has been destroyed by the typhoon . Only the three walls you see in this picture are left standing. When I asked her about the rebuilding process, she said the following amazing statement: “IF THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH HADN’T BEEN TORN DOWN, I WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN THE NEED OF PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF MY CHURCH WALLS.”
When I presented these teachers with two solar lights at Hilotongan Integrated School, they were really surprised and excited! They were literally climbing the walls to see the solar lights.
At night, men burn all kinds of leaves and branches to continue the cleanup and to carefully watch the flying embers to ensure they don’t catch any nipa hut on fire.
This family that lives in Barangay Tamiao showed us the “home made cell phone battery charging station” they had been using before they received therelight.
As many as 4-5 million children suffered as a result of the typhoon, as estimated by Save the Children and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It is commonly recognized that children have suffered the most.
After speaking with local families, hearing their stories and sharing painful moments of silence and togetherness, Kuster selected potential light recipients based on their propensity to share their new solar tools with their neighbors in need.
Aside from struggling families, Watts of Love has gifted lights to numerous birthing centers, schools, churches and individuals who can use them to begin rebuilding their future, starting with a brighter tonight.
We want to thank the entire Operation Blessing: Philippines team for all of their support, love and assistance. We were so proud to be a part of your mission and could not have done anything without you! Special thanks to Dr. Kim Pascual, John Tan, Gigi Endaya, Pastor Vinas Doods, Pastor Dennis Mendoza, Pastor Daniel Vargea, Harvey Flores, Rose Secreto, Ching Bandola, Alfred Albarracin, Dr. Ayen Campos, Dr. Rex, Tim Fischer, Tony Mendoyos, Reyna Mendoza, Monika Pagcaliwagan and my amazing driver, guide, photo assistant, interpreter and friend Vincente Vinzon!
Click here for more information on Operation Blessing Philippines.
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