What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? While I’m feeling thankful for many things right now, my family is at top of the list, along with my friends, both old and new. Their constant support reminds me that, when life gets difficult, we can always rely on one another. None of us are in this alone.
That’s what came to mind when I saw these photos taken recently by Oxfam’s Jane Beesley in Cebu province, one of the areas of the Philippines hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan. More than two weeks after the storm, areas like Bantayan Island still lack electricity, and many roads remain blocked. Here, as in other affected areas, Oxfam is working to provide people with clean water, hygiene kits, food, and other much-needed assistance (including chainsaws to help volunteers and the local government start clearing fallen trees and debris).
We can’t underestimate the tremendous challenges now facing typhoon survivors in Cebu and elsewhere. Those challenges will continue in the coming weeks and months as families begin the hard work of rebuilding their lives.
But as these photos reveal, life is still going on in Cebu province. And people are still turning to one another for strength and comfort, just as we all do, everywhere, every day.
Cooking a family meal
Jacquilene, 20, a student teacher, and her mother, Janet, cook donuts outside her parents’ shop on Talangnon, Bantayan Island. “When the typhoon came we were all really scared. My heart was beating fast the whole time it was here. The wind was very strong and the rain was really heavy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Jacquilene. “Now our house is destroyed but our small business is OK. My parents are staying here with the shop and the rest of us, we are eight siblings, are staying elsewhere. We get up early so we can come here and help our parents with the shop.”
Mira Bacatan, left, public health promotion lead for Oxfam’s Typhoon Haiyan Response in the Cebu area, with Rico Bentulan, Cebu area project manager.
Oxfam asked its partner organizations working in other parts of the Philippines if any of their staff would like to volunteer to help with the typhoon response. One of the first to volunteer was Bryan Carlo Teodosio, right, pictured here assisting with the distribution of hygiene and water kits at Mancilang, Bantayan Island.
The Rose family, pictured, from left to right: April (age 16), Olivia with Victor Jr., Mark (age 12), and Victor with Marvin. The family’s house was destroyed in the storm and Victor’s fishing boat, which he used to make a living, suffered damage.
Sharing an umbrella
From left, Vicenta Schwitter, 40, and Natividad Mondejar, 67, find shade from the sun at an Oxfam hygiene and water kit distribution in Paypay, in North Cebu.
Words of reassurance
Oxfam’s Vincent Malasador offers words of support and reassurance to a recipient during the distribution of hygiene items in Paypay village, north Cebu.