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Assisting Typhoon Survivors in the Philippines

Reaching out to victims of natural disasters is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Typhoon Washi struck the Philippines from December 16 to 18, causing over 1,000 deaths and leaving 60,000 people homeless. Our Sisters in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, experienced heavy rains and driving winds, but not the flooding that devastated other areas. They asked their youth groups, Medical Mission Youth and the Parish Youth Apostolate, to sort clothes for the diocesan relief distribution efforts. The young people spent two nights and one day helping with this effort.

Sister Mary Jane Caspillo was involved in relief distribution for the typhoon victims. Her group of 98 volunteers went to four areas and gave out packages that included food, drinking water and personal hygiene items to 1,000 families. Sister shares, “Words are not enough for me to describe the images and the atmosphere that this event caused the people and Earth.”

Two of the areas Sister Mary Jane visited, Barangays Carmen and Balulang, are located beside the Cagayan River. Hundreds of houses there were washed away by the floods. Sister says, “I met two young men who were among the survivors. They were both carried away by the floodwaters…one was able to hold on to a piece of log and was found by a fisherman in the sea the next day; the other held on to a water container and was found in the sea by the Coast Guard, also on the next day.”

She adds, “A lady pointed to (me) where her house was standing before the flash floods. Now, everything is gone…she hugged me tightly and said no words, just a loud cry and then a deep sigh, grateful that nobody was hurt in her family.”

The group Sister Mary Jane worked with, Help Northern Mindanao, is planning a second relief distribution effort this month, when they have gathered enough goods and cash.

Sister shares, “I don’t know how much time it will take for Earth to restore herself…for the victims, it will take a long time before they can recover from this tragedy and find their rightful place again. The little that we can do for them or share with them means a lot. Let us continue to pray with them.”

January 15, 2012