Update: After Six Months, Many Communities Still Recovering from Typhoon Washi
In December of last year Typhoon Washi swept through the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Illigan on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, triggering a flashflood that killed over a thousand people and left thousands more stranded and in need of basic supplies. In the U.S., funds sent to Christian Aid Mission were immediately sent to provide emergency supplies to various indigenous mission groups who were actively helping the afflicted, and ministering to their spiritual needs. Gifts by donors continued to provide aid to these mission groups as hundreds of families struggled to survive in the aftermath of the typhoon.
Now more than six months after Typhoon Washi struck, about two thirds of the victims in both the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro have already settled in to their new residences provided by the Philippine government and various non-government organizations (NGOs). The rest of the victims remain stuck in tent cities or have gone back to their previous homes damaged by the storm. Even though many of these houses are structurally unsafe, authorities were unable to prevent the refugees from moving back because, for many, their livelihood is tied to their previous locale. By God’s grace the victims are gradually recovering from their traumatic experiences.
In Illigan, indigenous ministries continue to operate feeding stations out of three evacuation centers. They are also distributing basic necessities such as blankets and clothing to affected households. Christians in Illigan are distributing school supplies to children who come from families devastated by Typhoon Washi. Gospel workers are also providing financial assistance to a handful of children, which will continue till they have successfully transferred to their new residences and have recovered from their harrowing experiences. The missionaries conduct regular follow up of the victims who have accepted Christ and are now attending church services and Bible studies.
The situation is very similar in Cagayan de Oro where native missionaries work out of six evacuation centers to feed and distribute relief goods to hundreds of families. Every Sunday youth leaders visit evacuation areas and conduct Bible studies with the victims they are helping.
Even though conditions are improving, many families who have lost loved ones, remain without a permanent abode. Thousands of evacuees have lost their means of income and need help. In the midst of devastation, the spirit of the Lord continues to empower His workers to spread His message of compassion and redemption among the suffering. Support is still needed so that native missionaries will be able to reach out to the communities of Illigan and Cagayan de Oro, and continue to help long after others have left the scene.