Kansas City, MO (November 25, 2013) Children International is providing assistance to children who are refugees from Tacloban, as well as children from other areas in the Philippines that were hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan.
Children International is providing a place of comfort at the Villamor Air Force Base in Manila for refugees from Tacloban together with The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund). About 11,000 refugees from Tacloban have been transported to the processing center so far.
The NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) in the Philippines estimates that more than 2 million families (10 million people) were affected in 10,724 villages in 44 provinces of the Philippines. Of these, 74,842 families or 347,426 people are staying in 1,382 evacuation centers.
"These refugees have lost their homes and possessions and, often, loved ones. They also usually lack documentation like driver's licenses or birth certificates, and many are desperately hoping to locate family members and loved ones," explains Pio Salvador, Children International's Country Director for the Philippines.Photo by Carmie Carpio.
Jack McCanna, Children International's Vice President of Program Services, explains, "When the refugees first deplane, they are met and escorted by members of the Philippine Air Force. Volunteers are lined up, creating a path for the refugees to walk through as the volunteers cheer and clap. It is a heart-warming reception – welcoming for the refugees." He explains further, "Arriving in Manila is just the beginning. These people have endured so much already, and they still have much difficulty ahead of them. They are traumatized – especially the children – and need our care and protection. Children International's Child Processing Center at Villamor, in partnership with CWC and UNICEF, provides a safe and welcoming center for the refugees."
Children International is providing assistance in and around Kalibo in the Province of Aklan, focusing on establishing child-friendly spaces in schools devastated by Haiyan.
Mr. McCanna and Mr. Salvador met with government officials in Kalibo where Haiyan blasted through as a Category 4 typhoon.Photo by Carmie Carpio.
Mr. Salvador explains, "At least 10,000 homes were destroyed in Kalibo, and there is more damage along the coastline. In the Province of Aklan, nearly 86,000 homes have been totally damaged. It is essential to provide the children in these types of situations with places to go that help to comfort them. They have suffered so much and need someplace to go where things feel a bit normal for part of the day. School is especially important in the Philippines, and the longer they are out of school, the harder it is for them. They need something positive to focus on."
"Child-friendly spaces" include not only the place to gather but the experiences the children have in that place. Simple things like toys, books, pencils, papers, arts and crafts, and board games are important elements that can help children feel comforted.
Mr. McCanna notes that the citizens of the Philippines are working hard themselves. He describes hearing "the sound of hammers all through the night in spite of the rains that continue in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan," as residents do the best they can to pull their lives back together. He emphasizes, "Helping the children by providing them a safe space to go is so important as adults work day and night to reestablish some acceptable type of living situation."
You can help by donating to provide relief to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Donate Now.
Children International's Award-Winning Crisis Response History in the Philippines
Over the years, Children International has implemented various disaster-recovery efforts in the typhoon-prone country, running the spectrum from disaster-preparedness training and drills to providing permanent housing for families who were forced to resettle after their houses were buried under mudslides.
Last year, Children International Philippines of the Bicol region received the Best Civil Society Organization on Humanitarian Assistance by the Republic of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. As a result of receiving the award for three consecutive years, Children International also received the Hall of Fame Award in recognition of its work in disaster relief. In addition, Country Director Pio Salvador received special recognition for his "invaluable contribution in the field of disaster risk reduction and management."
About Children International
Children International prepares children and youth to escape the traps of poverty by supporting their critical needs, building resilience, and engaging them in transformative activities. Children International accomplishes this by providing crucial benefits and compassionate care through easily accessible, modern community centers. Children International’s presence, programs and supporters have a positive impact on children, youth, families and communities; provide protection; encourage self-sufficiency; and serve as catalysts for change.