Five days have passed since the residents of Barangay Gaas in Ormoc City left their homes due to threats of landslides and aftershocks, but it’s still unclear how long they will have to stay in makeshift tents.
Just like most of the evacuees, Warlito Torrino is doing everything he could to make his family comfortable in their current setup.
On July 15, he was seen repairing the tarpaulin that serves as their temporary roof. “If we use woods [in putting up the tents] we would still need nails, but if we use bamboos we can just knot the tarpaulin,” says Torrino.
“We’re having a hard time because we are not used to this kind of living environment,” he adds.
In their situation, the quake victims can only appreciate the aid from various civic groups. Although their community is far away from town and the road getting there is still unpaved and prone to landslides, they are not forgotten.
Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers on July 15 made the long and treacherous journey to reach the evacuation camp in Barangay Gaas. A total of 168 quake-affected families here benefitted from the distribution of 20-kilo sacks of Taiwan rice and Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds.
The aid was modified according to the number of family members. Families with less than five members received a sack of rice and one unit of Jing Si multipurpose foldable bed, while those with more than five members received two sacks and two units of Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds beds.
Barangay Gaas chairman Marjun Magno lauds Tzu Chi’s effort in bringing back the smiles and reviving the hopes of his calamity-stricken constituents.
“We are very happy because Tzu Chi is very compassionate toward the people. They didn’t come here just to bring aid but to comfort the victims as well, reminding them that this is just a challenge and that we have to move forward,” he says.
Meanwhile, young volunteers from the Great Love City, Tzu Chi’s temporary housing village in Ormoc for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims, pitched in help in the relief activity. Carrying the sacks of rice and Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds for the recipients toward the latter’s tents, gave the young volunteers a peek into the lives of the quake victims.
Rowegine Legaspi shed tears after the experience.
“I grew emotional when I saw their situation here. They don’t have houses anymore, a bed to sleep in, and their food is hard to find,” she says.
Complementing other group’s assistance
Apart from Tzu Chi, several civic groups also reached out to the evacuees on July 15.
Ormoc City councilor Gerry Penserga brought relief goods composed of cooking pans, tumblers, spoons and forks, medicines, chocolate drink, and bread.
“These are our people and they need our help,” says Penserga. “They really need a lot of support especially our sympathy. We want to let them feel that there is somebody thinking of them and there is somebody who is doing his best to help them.”
The Rotary Club of Tacloban City also visited the evacuation camp to donate different types of water filtration technologies imported from the USA.
Mark Hilhorst demonstrated how to use the filtration devices as the villagers curiously gather around him. Lack of potable water supply is one of the many concerns in evacuation camps. In this regard, the water filtration devices can help a lot.
“It cleans out all the protozoa, the E. coli bacteria – everything that causes water-borne diseases, it’ll take out. So they [evacuees] can literally get water from any available source, say, deep well, river, even a mud puddle, rainwater, put it through the filter and at least have a good, safe, clean drinking water to drink,” says Hilhorst.
The absence of electricity in the evacuation camp is what the Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay chapter hoped to address when it donated units of solar lights. As of this writing, the group has already donated over 700 solar lights to all the evacuation centers in Ormoc, following the 6.5-magnitude earthquake.
“A lot of the families here use gas or kerosene lamps to light up the place but those are very dangerous. It may cause fire especially when their tents are so close to each other,” says Rotary Club member Twinkle Chu.
Chu remembers Tzu Chi from the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). She was one of the locals who assisted the group of volunteers upon their arrival in Ormoc.
“We are very grateful to Tzu Chi; since Typhoon Haiyan, how they’ve been helping the city is very inspirational and now after the earthquake Tzu Chi is back here in Ormoc. We are very grateful for that. So we’re just trying to complement each other with the services that we’re doing,” Chu adds.
Although still adjusting to their present situation, the outpouring of love and care from complete strangers warm the hearts of the quake victims, allowing them to become hopeful again.
“We are happy that there are so many people with good hearts coming in to help us in this time that we have been struck by a calamity,” says quake victim Danilo Sanchez.
Tzu Chi Foundation gathers the quake victims for a short program before the actual distribution of relief goods. The program aims to leave the recipients with valuable life insights apart from the material aid. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A Tzu Chi volunteer shows the Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds and demonstrates how it is used. With its collapsible nature, the bed can be turned into sleeping platform or a chair. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A quake victim is a picture of relief as a Tzu Chi volunteer embraces her and tells her encouraging words shortly before the relief program began. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A young volunteer assists an elderly lady in carrying the sack of rice for her family. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Rowegine Legaspi reflects on how fortunate she is to have survived the earthquake and still have the opportunity to help those worst-affected. She helps carry the sacks of rice and Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds for the elderlies. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Ormoc City councilor Gerry Penserga brought relief goods for the evacuees in Barangay Gaas. He says this the local government’s way of reminding the quake victims that they are not alone in this challenging time. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Twinkle Chu from the Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay demonstrates how to use the solar-powered lights which they will be donating on this day. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
An earthquake evacuee is all smiles at seeing they have safe lighting inside their tent from this day on. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Danilo Sanchez and his wife eagerly open the box of solar-powered lights they received from the Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
The Rotary Club of Tacloban donates different types of water filtration devices for the earthquake evacuees in Barangay Gaas. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Mark Hilhorst demonstrates how to use the water filtration device. He says these devices will address the lack of potable water in the evacuation camps. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
These quake victims are all smiles as they return to their tents, holding the cooking pan and other relief goods they received from different civic groups. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Warlito Torrino is doing everything he could to make his family comfortable in the evacuation camp. He repairs the tarpaulin that serves as their temporary roof in order to keep the heat and rain water from getting inside the tents. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】