By: Jay Mijares, HEA comms
PHILIPPINES, March 18 - Twelve hours after the fire in Culiat, Quezon City left 1,200 houses into rubbish and over 2,000 families homeless, a World Vision assessment team visits the fire site to look into the survivors’ condition on Thursday, March 17.
A World Vision assessment team arrived while survivors were cleaning their charred homes amid smoke indicative of the fire that engulfed their belongings in just a half-hour span.
World Vision staff Jeff Jose made rounds to assist mothers with their small children from the evacuation site which was located about two kilometres away from the disaster area. He said; “I was so moved by their plight that I was not able to contain myself in helping them in even just a small effort that I can.”
Three-year old girl Olivia Dela Cruz already missed going home, she asked her 19 year old sibling May if they can go home already. May tearfully answered, “How can we go home? We don’t have a house to come home to anymore.” Before the fire, May was able to save only a Bible from their burning house. She said, “It was the only thing I can think of bringing because I panicked. I was stunned for hours in one part of the road, praying to God alone, "Please save all our family, this is the first time that I am asking something major from you." After sometime, all the members of my family were reunited and were ushered here at the evacuation centre.”
Looking forward to graduation this year, May, a graduating IT Management student now utters a simple prayer, “Grace and understanding from her classmates since a lot of school requirements I have were also eaten by fire.”
Another survivor Joy Delos Santos, 17 years old, tries to contain her grief as she scours the ground for things that she can salvage and sell in exchange of food for her family. Living up to her name, she smiles as she shares, “We haven’t had any sleep and have not eaten any yet as well. I am very thankful if some help arrives.” She adds, “We’re just like this, sad but all smiles still, but later on, our weeping session will ensue again.”
World Vision assessment leader Viviano Panes went around accounting for the number of survivors and the extent of their immediate needs. He explains, “These people need to be aided with at least food and emergency items like mats and blankets,” as people try to move back to the area to clean and sleep there tonight on the floor where their home once stood. He added, "we will follow-up tomorrow to make a more thorough assessment of their needs.”
WV relief director Jose “Boy” Bersales, “In times like these, we need to look into the construction of these houses as we advocate for more resilient structures which could withstand other disasters like earthquakes as well.” World Vision promotes preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction measures which were recently passed into a law in the Philippines.
As for the little girl Olivia, she just wants to go home.