This post arrives a bit late (sorry). We were given a meeting with the mayor of Tacloban, who basically explained to us how Typhoon Yolanda happened and what his experiences were during the storms. It was crazy, the guy almost died along with his kids but somehow they managed to survive the disaster. He also elaborated on the response and how conflicts with the national government contributed to the results.
Of note is the trauma that children have suffered because of it. Even the people I have spoken to have given the same story about how their kids still cry when a storm happens in Tacloban. Some even have panic attacks and shakes if it rains really hard. Despite being safe indoors, it does little to erase the ordeal from the minds of kids who were forced to even swim to rooftops to stay alive.
We visited mass grave sites were families came to pay respects to their lost loved ones. One mother in general told her story of how they waited for her husband to return, thinking he survived Typhoon Yolanda. It was only today that they finally accepted he may have died and we’re visiting mass graves looking for his name. When they couldn’t find it, they wrote his name on one of the blank crosses in an attempt to give themselves closure.
It was particularly hard to hear the son, who was this 6 year old kid who thought his dad was “taken away by Yolanda” but wasn’t really dead. The concept of death was still not something of reality for his little mind. After hearing his mom tell her story and seeing our reactions, I think it really set in eventually and the poor kid suddenly started bawling his eyes out. For children, innocence is one of the most precious gifts that they have in this world.
We would later be told by another local leader that one of the factors that is credited by the people for their survival and continuing drive is because of the strength of their spiritual faith.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”