I went on a UNICEF site visit to Tacloban a couple of weeks ago. As with every UNICEF trip I’ve taken in the past, I was extremely moved. It has been nine months since this strongest storm to ever hit landfall devastated eastern Visayas. Driving through Tacloban and parts of Palo, Leyte, you can still see many remnants of the physical damage. It’s still quite overwhelming. But in this trip, I also saw a lot of hope.
It was good to see some smiles again. But ask any individual who lived through Haiyan/Yolanda, “How are you doing?/Kamusta ka na?” and tears well up in their eyes. The wounds are deep. Any hint of rain or strong winds brings them back to that fateful day last November 8th. I didn’t want anyone to have to relive their harrowing ordeal. Almost everyone gathered to see me at my visit lost someone they loved during the storm. Instead I wanted to see what life is like presently for those who were affected.
Over 14.1 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Of those, 5.9 million were children. UNICEF continues to provide life-saving and recovery assistance for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Here’s my photo diary of my visit to Tacloban and Palo,Leyte.
Here’s the other end of that ship that went furthest inland. When my friends saw my photos, one of them asked why these boats haven’t been pulled back into shore yet. She felt frustrated like no one was doing anything. But I have to tell you that these are huge ships. And they are so far inland. Nothing can pull these back to the water.
The irony. A sticker saying “Think Safety” was plastered on this cargo container. It was one of the hundreds of containers from the port that washed ashore. It now serves as foundation for this house that’s not even supposed to be there.
With the Chief of Field Office Maulid Warfa at the UNICEF office in Tacloban. Some of the UNICEF staff have been on site since the typhoon struck last November 8th 2013. Whenever I visit sites with UNICEF I am not only touched by the stories of the local people but also of the professionals who have devoted their life doing humanitarian work. These are the people who respond to emergencies around the world.
The acting-principal of Barayong Elementary School showing me and Cromwell Bacareza, OIC of UNICEF WASH Team some of the physical improvements in the school, like a new roof. This school was severely affected by Haiyan/Yolanda. It is located on a mountain. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014
It was heartwarming to see kids back in school. To date, UNICEF has provided learning materials and supplies for over 500,000 pre-school and school-aged children (3 to 17 years) across Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda-affected areas.
His laptop is broken so he is using a separate monitor hooked up to the laptop’s keyboard. Mr. Dolina said the school is understaffed. They only have 4 teachers for the entire school. So teachers double-up with classes. He has to do administrative work in addition to teaching and correcting papers. He also has to check the school on weekends because there are no doors or locks to protect their supplies.
OIC of UNICEF’s WASH Program (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Cromwell Bacareza shows me that water from the well is stored in a tank which is connected to these pipes. This is a makeshift lavatory where kids can wash their hands. It’s known as tippy tap. UNICEF supports schools affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda by providing water, sanitation & hygiene facilities and supplies to ensure that children stay healthy, which helps them stay in school. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.
The tippy tap is made of modest material. For a low cost, we can ensure that children have access to clean water. UNICEF also provided schools with soap. It is very important for children to wash their hands with soap and water. This needs to be instilled in them at a young age so that we can be healthy and germ-free. Because of the tippy tap, hand-washing becomes a social activity. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.
With the bunkhouse manager Joseph dela Pena. The bunkhouse is one of the temporary housing programs provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It houses over 180 families with provision to water and sanitation facilities and a UNICEF child-friendly space tent.
This mother has five children. Except for the baby, they are all back in school. Her eyes welled up with tears when she recalled their experience when Haiyan/Yolanda hit. She said she and her husband hung on to all their kids and climbed the ceiling of a structure. They stayed there all day. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.
UNICEF Chief of Tacloban Field office Maulid Warfa and I spent some time playing with children while their mothers attend a UNICEF-supported Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) counselling in the adjacent room in Barangay 64, Tacloban City. IYCF counselling sessions ensure that parents and caregivers breastfeed and give proper nutritious food to their children to keep them healthy. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.
City health workers in Sagkahan District Health Centre in Tacloban show me the vaccine refrigerator. UNICEF is providing vaccines, cold chain equipment, and vaccine management training for health personnel across Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda-affected areas. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.
I took the opportunity to film a short video to help fundraise for UNICEF. For information on how to donate, click here.