Starting over in the Philiippines

AGM11-30-13Philippines (MNN/AMG) — More powerful than Hurricane Katrina that hit the United States in 2005, Typhoon Haiyan is one of the costliest and deadliest storms to hit the Philippines in recent years.

After it was all said and done, there were over three million displaced people, more a million damaged or destroyed homes, and more than five thousand dead.

Rural areas were cut off from assistance, and now there’s the second-wave disaster coming in: waterborne diseases and recovery injuries (injuries gotten from debris clean-up).  The scale of destruction is mind-boggling.

AMG International Southeast Asia Coordinator Bill Passons says in some cases, it feels like starting all over again. “It’s kind of staggering when you see those kind of numbers. I mean 96% in Iloilo; in one of the areas we’re working in Leyte, 98% of the houses were destroyed. In another area there and also in Leyte, we had 95% of the houses destroyed.”

The United Nations says life-saving assistance is still urgently required, particularly food, water, and shelter. AMG is doing what they can in an area that’s already been hit by summer floods. “Our staff in Manila has already sent advance teams out to minister aid and to see what second and third stage of relief is going to be needed. There’s much planning going into that now.”

“Within our ministry alone, we have hundreds of families with children that are sponsored by AMG that were already in desperate situations. Most of them lost everything,” adds Passons.

He shares the list of damages from Eastern & Western Visayas area :

Iloilo:
Nagpana Child Care Center:
53 sponsored children homes destroyed
Center roof totally blown
Church and pastoral house partially destroyed
96 % of community houses destroyed
3 staff of CDP house destroyed
Ajuy Church of Ptr. Martines
Pastoral house totally destroyed
36 members house destroyed
Leyte:
    Pag Amoma Child Care center
36 sponsored child house destroyed
Church partially damaged
3 staff house destroyed
Ptr. Parilla’s house in Tacloban was underwater during the typhoon surge
98% of community houses destroyed
*Tabango Church
Church totally destroyed
47 members house destroyed
95% community house destroyed
Samar Churches
5 churches roofs destroyed
houses of children partially damaged
5 pastoral houses destroyed

Additionally, there’s the emotional toll. There was extensive damage to the schools, so children have not yet been able to resume daily activities. Lack of a day-to-day routine delays their capacity to process grief and loss, and according to the United Nations, many children are closed off and withdrawn.

Property damages are not the only concern, explains Passons. “Most of these people were farmers or had simple jobs like that. As these winds came and destroyed all of their crops for the whole season there, it’s going to be two cycles of the growing season for sure before they can even think about being self-sustained again.”

Coconuts need to be replanted since most of them are either cut or uprooted. Some would still live but would need about 5 years to recover. What’s more, the help that IS coming isn’t regular, Passons says. “The government assistance–even as it arrives, you get a package of food that may last three days for your family. Then…you’re having to go back and hope the government is still there. We’re trying to set up feeding centers that will be there for a longer period of time.”

AMG initially provided about 3,000 relief packets to partner ministries and their communities. However, in Leyte, the AMG Philippines team is having trouble purchasing the supplies needed for distribution. They are reporting that the supplies available are three times the cost of the same goods before the storm.

Please continue to pray for them, especially the need to provide relief assistance. Passons says they do have a ready-made distribution network. “Because of the network that we have with our community-based childcare centers and our community-based churches, we see that as a blessing to be able to be used by God to meet these basic needs.” AMG wants to “bring them to a place to also show ‘you also thirst spiritually, so we can show you satisfaction that you can get in Jesus Christ.'”

Pray for wisdom and provision from the Lord. Every aspect of AMG’s ministry was affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Their partners shine like beacons in this time, says Passons. “Overall, the scope is kind of staggering, but we are thankful for the hope that we have in Christ that cannot be blown away.”

It’s a long road to recovery. If you can pray, give, or go, click here.