Not Forgotten

Mission October 23, 2014

Roxas City, Philippines – On the hillside of Barangay Siempreviva, a coastal community located in the province of Iloilo, sits a crude concrete house. When Super Typhoon Haiyan swallowed most of the houses built along the coast only a couple meters down the hill, it also damaged Luz’s home. But by yesterday, it was already being repaired.

On the morning Yolanda, the local name for the storm, slammed the Panay Island, Luz opened her house to her desperate neighbors whose roofs were blown away and who anxiously searched for shelter.

Her home ended up harboring almost an entire community. The local authorities estimate that 302 households were destroyed at Barangay Siempreviva. Luz believes that at least 300 people came to her home on November 8 for shelter.

“People just stood up, they didn’t sit, they didn’t lay down,” she said. “There were so many people, the space was not much, and there were more people coming, so they stayed like this for two days!”

And that’s how men, women, elderly people and children of the fishing village down the hill stood while waiting for the category five cyclone to pass. But the host family provided more than space. They also shared some of their already scarce goods such as clothing, shoes and food with those who lost everything. When asked why she decided to open her door and give the few things she had to strangers she said with tears in her eyes: “It was the thing to do and I did it out of love for them.”

But it wasn’t just her neighbors who suffered losses; tragedy also struck home. Luz’s son lives with his wife and children in a much smaller bamboo house beside his mother’s house. Their home was much more damaged and they lost many of their belongings.

His family was one of the 302 households who received from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency a jerrycan to store clean water and a bucket filled with hygiene products with enough items to last a family of five for an entire month.

When his wife Mary Rose Figuran, 26, learned that her visitors were members of the ADRA team who had previously delivered the kits to her, she smiled a big welcoming smile and went back inside to pick up the containers stamped with the ADRA logo.

“Thank you ADRA, thank you so much,” she said. “What you did for us was a big, big help.”

She was surprised with the variety, quantity and quality of the products given. “You gave us so much! And you gave us good things,” she continued. “It will last more than a month for our family.” Since they are a smaller family, she said she has also been able to share some of the items with others who are also in need.

One of ADRA’s immediate emergency responses to Typhoon Haiyan was to distribute 2,083 jerrycans and another 2.083 hygiene kits in six different communities to those whose homes were completely destroyed.

Mary Rose was particularly excited about the “malong,” a cloth garment that can be used as a changing space to give especially women some privacy when changing their clothes, but also as a robe for those who’ve lost all their clothing, or as a sleeping bag, like in Mary Rose’s family. The ADRA logo will always be meaningful to her. “We are so thankful to ADRA, we will not take the logo sticker off of our items.”

The beneficiaries often keep the branded material they receive from ADRA, but for many, it’s more than a souvenir. For Luz, Mary Rose and many others, the ADRA logo stands as a reminder that when tragedy struck, they were not forgotten. And more, that they were thought of as people and not numbers when the immediate relief actions were taken.

Quality means value, and that’s why it is a core principle of ADRA, an agency committed to changing the world one life at the time by assisting people with love and compassion and restoring livelihoods with dignity.