Home Missions Charity Charity News Continuous outpouring of love for Hurricane Harvey victims

Continuous outpouring of love for Hurricane Harvey victims

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 14:2 PM | ARTICLE BY | Chloe Dela Cruz
Candle lights fill the covered court of Barangay Tumana as the prayer vigil for Hurricane Harvey victims begins. In this difficult time, Tzu Chi Philippines is praying that the survivors may find light, hope, and new beginnings. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

Story Highlights

  • The second day of the four-day community-based prayer vigil occurs at Barangay Tumana, Marikina on September 20. The event is attended by 160 Tzu Chi volunteers and residents. Everyone light their candles and offer their heartfelt prayers for the safety and recovery of the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

The second day of the community-based prayer vigil for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas is held in Barangay Tumana, Marikina City on September 20. Despite the heavy rain, 160 volunteers and residents participated in the event.

Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao still leads the prayer vigil. He also gives a talk about saving the earth and mitigating disasters through practicing a vegetarian lifestyle and recycling.

Some of the residents who attended the prayer vigil are children, whose ages are 8 years old and above. At their young age, they are already aware of the disaster that struck Texas and they dedicate a sincere prayer for the victims.

“On the video presentation, I saw how the hurricane, tornado, and flood hit Texas. I got scared and pitied the people there.The damages are severe. Yes, I am still a kid and I can’t afford to give them money. But I can pray for all the victims of Hurricane Harvey, that they may get all the help they need like new house and new beginnings,” says John Paul Manaois, 12 years old.

The other children who attended the event also acquire knowledge on how to save the earth.

“I join the prayer vigil because I want to pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, but today I also learn new things such as the importance of recycling and its good effects to our environment,” says Andrew Oreta, 13 years old.

The children also gain knowledge on vegetarianism.

“I learn through Sir Michael (Siao) the importance of being a vegetarian. This will not just make us healthy and fit but this will also save our planet’s health,” says Xirth Puno, 13 years old.

The will to attend prevails

Hours before the prayer vigil starts, there was a heavy downpour, flooding some areas in Tumana. But this did not stop the volunteers from attending the event.

“I came from Sta. Mesa to do recycling when the heavy rain falls. When I got home, the water has already gotten inside our house so I have to clean it first. The flood outside is on knee level. But I still insisted in attending the prayer vigil because I want to send my love and concern to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas,” says Roque Baytan.

Baytan is a volunteer of Tzu Chi and also does recycling at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. He attends the event all soaked up and wearing a pair of boots.

According to him, nothing can hinder a brave soul to share love and offer sincere prayers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Volunteers’ sympathy

When Typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009) and Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013) hit the Philippines, many Filipinos suffered. They lost their homes, possessions, and even their loved ones.

Eva Valois, a resident of Tumana, Marikina, experienced such calamities.

“When Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) hit the Philippines, we lost our home. We lost everything. We even drank rain water to survive. I know how hard it is for the victims of Hurricane Harvey to start from scratch. That is why I will really pray for them, I can’t give big amount of money but I will offer my sincere prayers for their recovery,” shares Valois.

Valois is grateful that they are now in a better situation with the help of Tzu Chi.

“Tzu Chi Foundation helped us to rebuild our lives through their cash for work program. They also guide us to the right path through their teachings,” adds Valois.

She also emphasized that they want to help Texas through their prayers, and in the same way that Tzu Chi Foundation helped them. Since she had experienced the same situation before, she praysthat no one will go through the same suffering anymore.

Importance of prayers

Tzu Chi volunteer Bernardo Mabini stresses the importance of prayer.

“I am overwhelmed to see a lot of volunteers coming together for a common goal, and that is to pray for all the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Our prayers are very important. It’s like a broom. When we are praying together, the prayer gets stronger and louder. Sincere hearts with utmost prayers are the most effective,” he says.

According to him, they want to help the victims of the hurricane because they were once put in the same situation before.

“Last 2012, we also experienced a devastating deluge because of Habagat (southwest monsoon rains). We also lost our homes. When Tzu Chi arrived here, they gave us relief goods, assistance, and hope. As my way of giving back, I will offer not only my sincere prayers for those who are in need but I will also give donations,” says Mabini.

The attendees light a candle and offer their prayers for the victims. With the hope that the victims of the hurricane will feel that there are people in different country who empathize with and care for them.

At the end of the program, the volunteers and residents of Tumana give their donations for Texas. They may not be able to give a big amount of money but what matters is that it came from their hearts.

Tzu Chi Philippines wants the people in Texas to feel that they are not alone, that there are people who sincerely pray for their fast recovery and willing to carry their burden with them as they move on and start to rebuild their lives.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2017 14:2 PM

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