Help for the Philippines struck by Tropical Storm Vinta

Help for the Philippines struck by Tropical Storm Vinta

As most of us were sitting down with our families to our Christmas meal, the People in Need team in the Philippines was setting out to help the inhabitants of Mindanao island, which had been struck by tropical storm Vinta.

The devastating storm reached its peak on Christmas Eve in areas, where People in Need (PiN) have been operating for some time. They originally set up to help families fleeing the town of Marawi, which had been the scene of fighting between militant groups claiming to belong to the so-called Islamic State and the Philippine armed forces, who attempted to reclaim the town back from the insurgents. The fighting in and around Marawi caused some 359 680 people to leave their homes and seek shelter either with relatives or in evacuation centres. These internal refugees subsequently became the victims of tropical storm Vinta, which killed 170, with a large number of people still reported missing.

The already overcrowded evacuation centres were partially or totally destroyed and their inhabitants were once again forced to seek sanctuary elsewhere. The PiN team visited the most affected communities, which had been without water and electricity supplies for a number of days. Road communications were often severely damaged. „Some villages could not be reached by car. We had to use a motorcycle or walk part of the way in order to get to the affected areas,“ the situation immediately after the catastrophe is described by local field worker Alicia Pandapatan. „What we saw was tantamount to an absolute catastrophe: the evacuation centres were overcrowded, the people who had survived the storm had to sleep sitting up because there was not enough space for them to lie down. There was a lack of food and hygiene materials,“ she adds. After assessing the needs, the PiN team set as its priority the distribution of hygienic packs to schools, to prevent further spread of disease caused by using contaminated water.

Considering that many farmers and small stall-holders completely lost their source of livelihood, PiN also decided to support the creation of employment opportunities in the most affected areas. The local people are now being offered work in clearing up after the storm (clearing debris, cleaning of public buildings) and so are able to generate an income, which will cover the cost of food or enable them to pay the school fees for children and young adults. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable families from the affected communities. The project will target single parents or women who are heads of households without the help of a male partner.

Thanks to the support of the Club of Friends of PiN we were able to buy materials, which will form part of the hygienic packs distributed to some 600 primary and secondary school pupils. Part of the money provided by the Club of Friends of PiN is earmarked to provide financial aid to parents to help them pay the school fees for their children. Furthermore, providing them with work will help to transform the devastated areas and will be instrumental in bringing the school surrounding areas and the basic infrastructure back to its original state.

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Author: Monika Kolomazníková