Typhoon Haiyan: Today's pearl of wisdom

Emergency Response Co-ordinator, Chelsea.
Posted on: Friday, 15th November, 2013

Today was the third day of the Rapid Needs Assessment and we visited the community of Estancia in the North East of Iloilo province in the Philippines. We started out at the crack of dawn with fish soup - while this was very different from my usual breakfast, I realised how blessed I was to even have food to eat.

The extent of the devastation in Estancia today was truly overwhelming.

It is hard to find the words to describe the scene of complete destruction. As far as the eye could see was total wreckage.

Every school we passed was roofless and classrooms were a shattered mess. The University was completely obliterated. Cars were pinned under collapsed roofs. No tree was left standing. In some places it seemed that only one in every ten houses remained. The destruction was almost unfathomable. Yet among the rubble, people greeted us warmly. They walked with us and shared their stories of the typhoon.

Over the past week our CBM team (Ira, Willy, Gilbert and myself) has joined forces with local partner the Association of Disabled Persons Incorporated (ADPI). ADPI strikes me as a force to reckon with. For the past 22 years they have been working with local government and people with disability to promote the rights of people with disability. With over 1000 members, their local networks are astonishing and in each community we are able to locate people with disability and find out what their needs are, thanks to their strong connections.

Annalyn from ADPI has taken up the task of being my interpreter, cultural guide, information officer, friend and technical advisor. Her wealth of knowledge, patience and dedication to the work continually astounds me. Chatting on the way home today, Annalyn shared a pearl of wisdom with the team:

"People feel that they are lucky to be alive. They have lost everything, but they will rebuild."

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