First Person

Oxfam aid reaches families hard hit by typhoon in Philippines

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Dolor Moralde, 36, was among those to receive a hygiene kit from Oxfam yesterday. Photo by Jane Beesley/Oxfam

For 600 families on the northern tip of Cebu province in the Philippines—hammered a week ago by one of the most powerful storms in recorded history—yesterday brought a bit of relief. Oxfam distributed much-needed water purification and hygiene kits in the coastal region of Daanbantayan. About 200 more families will get similar kits today.

“We are still in shock,” said Annie Postrero Abenasa, 31, who lives who with her husband and their three young children. “I don’t know how to react, how to overcome this kind of damage.  On that day, all the rooftops were blown away, all the houses damaged,” she said.

Abenasa’s family was among those receiving support from Oxfam yesterday. Included with the hygiene kits are essentials such as toothbrushes and paste, blankets, sleeping mats and mosquito nets.

“It’s a great help to us because we have nothing. Everything in our house was blown away,” she said.

Having endured winds up to 195 miles per hour and storm surges reportedly as high as 10 meters in some places, survivors of Typhoon Haiyan face enormous challenges in the weeks ahead. Aid workers remain deeply concerned about the potential for more death because of lack of sanitation and polluted floodwater. Many people have wounds that have been left untreated because of lack of medical supplies. And high temperatures and dirty standing water mean that the risk of waterborne diseases—such as deadly cholera—remain high.

“The people of the Philippines have shown great resilience and we owe them a very rapid response,” said Mike Delaney, the director of humanitarian response for Oxfam America. “For the first few days, the airports were clogged, but we’re finally getting materials in. Now the struggle is getting supplies out to the most desperate areas.”

Oxfam aims to reach 20,000 families with vital aid in the initial phase of a response that we hope will eventually help 500,000 people.

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