We arrived in Tacloban 40 days after the typhoon. From the moment we landed at the airport, where the typhoon had struck with the deadliest force, we could see how much the city had suffered.
The airport’s roof and walls had sustained damage; however, they are being temporarily repaired and the restrooms are functioning thanks to people’s kind assistance.
We had to wait a long time for our baggage, as they are being carried manually by the airport porters and volunteers.
On the way to Grace Baptist Church we passed so much devastation. Hotels, buildings, big houses and small houses were severely damaged or completely gone. More than a month later, the cleanup was not finished.
Pastor John Wynn with volunteer Kyle and Pastor Alfred (the Filipino pastor who is in charge of the church extension classes) were waiting for us outside.
The church is at least 15 minutes from the airport, which explains why it was not spared during the typhoon. The building was flooded with mud and it was weeks before they were able to clean it up.
All the computers for the church, the Learning Center and their ministers’ Bible training area were irreparably ruined, so they had to throw them all out.
Grace Baptist Church
Pastor John Wynn’s ministry includes the Church, the Academy, Bible training for ministers and the Extension Classes for less fortunate kids. It amazed me how he had learned to speak Visayan fluently. He truly lives with the people and feels their losses deeply as if he were family.
We joined their early night service and prayer meeting at the same time to pray for everyone. We had to use solar lights in order to read the scriptures. We were able to hand over 10 solar panels to 10 selected families of the staff and members. However, more are needed. A generator arrived for the church, but it has a 3-hour consumption limit.
The outside of the church is not yet cleaned up. They have to wait for the garbage trucks to pick up the debris. Repairs to the roof are also needed.
Some church members and school staff are still staying in the church because their houses are not yet ready. Some individual volunteers came and helped the men in the church, including Pastor Wynn, to repair the church members’ houses. However, they must stop their repairs whenever materials run out. G.I. sheets, cement and nails are all in short supply.
We need more donors for rebuilding houses.
The view from inside
Packing of the candies for the kids
The loving teachers
Just to bring a little smile to the children’s faces, we prepared some candies and chocolates. We didn’t have time to wait for the students at the Learning Center, but we handed some out for the Extension Class kids, although it was not easy locating all of them since they are scattered around the city.
Teachers, Admin Staff & Workers
Through the leadership of Pastor John Wynn and the Academy principal Ms. Monette (violet shirt), the temporary Learning Center was decorated for Christmas.
We can’t see in their smiles the crisis they have undergone. Instead, their thankful hearts reflect their trust in God. They are thankful for all the help God provided and that they were able to survive.
As Pastor Wynn remarked, “They share much in common. They have endured the typhoon and survived through God’s help.”
Out of 190 students, 25 attended the school after the typhoon. Some are still outside Tacloban.
Students doing their work
Even with wet materials just dried in the sun, the remaining students continue to do their work with the patient guidance of their teachers.
SOME STUDENTS ARE GREATLY AFFECTED:
House of Andrei Quilaneta
Bernice Granali’s House
Eloisa Marie Pilapil and siblings with Teacher Joana. These kids lost their house on the mountainside, so they are staying temporarily at the church.
Russel Kent Alicaya from the Learning Center and his cousin (in the picture), an Extension Class student.
There is a need for clean water since the safe water has been affected.
THE EXTENSION CLASSES:
Their temporary kitchen and dining area
Student: Ericka Dialiano
Pastor Alfred, the extension class pastor, introduced us to Ericka, who had lost her father and their house. Her sister is sick so we did not meet her mother, who went out to borrow some money for the baby’s medication.
Ericka could not attend Sunday’s extension class because they don’t have a permanent dwelling yet and they are still trying to locate her father. The teachers, however, believe that he may already be dead and buried, along with the rest of the victims of the typhoon.
Ericka’s family, and many others who did not avail themselves of tents provided by aid organizations, are staying in this old elementary school for the time being since classes are still suspended. However, these accommodations will not be available for long as life must resume soon. They are given sardines and NFA rice to eat, the lowest quality of can goods and rice in the Philippines.
Though there is the possibility for them to have shelter in the future, we just don’t know when, since our government is slow on this matter. Non-government organizations are therefore the ones to take charge if we don’t want to see these kids suffer.
Pastor Alfred searching for other Extension Class children
This city’s convention hall became their shelter during the typhoon. At the peak of the typhoon, however, the water rose to the 2nd floor.
The Extension Class kids have built their huts in front of this building. Some government agencies hand out relief goods. However, not all can receive these goods as they need special cards, which they do not have because they were not present during the distribution of the cards.
This means they must rely on the various non-government organizations (NGOs) that are extending unconditional aid.
Waiting, hoping for something…
Standing in line to receive the candies
Is it hard to smile, even with something?
The real kids we were searching for…
Some photos with Pastor Alfred, a volunteer and the teachers
While we cannot provide for all the needs of these students and their families, with every little thing we can give we are providing them with hope.
A brighter future awaits, but they don’t need our help tomorrow ~ they need our help