Micha Jane and Ryan, live with their family in Tacloban, the capital of the province of Leyte, an island in the central southwest of the Philippines, among the cities most affected by the typhoon of November 8, 2013. Among the 200,000 inhabitants, more than 10,000 have been estimated to have died.
These two teens who, with their family are members of the local community of the Focolare, still retain vivid memories of the tragedy: “I can’t tell you how many times we recited the holy Rosary with the whole family – Ryan shared: after the typhoon passed our house had only it’s roof that was damaged”. And Micha Jane: “My father told us to hide in the bathroom because it was the only place that had cement walls; everytime the house trembled and the things slammed against the outer walls I felt as if I was the one being hit. So I tried to concentrate more on my prayers and I felt that my fear slowly disappeared.”
After the typhoon passed, night came: “We heard people talking about homes being ransacked, people killed; once again we found the strength to ask God for help and, at the same time, we felt that we must be prudent and watchful”..
The days that followed were really difficult. The very strong wind blew away the roofs, houses, trees, and caused an ocean surge that in a matter of minutes submerged part of the city.
There was no eletricity, water, there was no way to communicate with anyone, not even through cellular phones; the first telephone contacts were made possible only after many days.
Micha Jane continues to share: “We would hear occasional gunshots, the nights were extraordinarily silent. Most of our neighbours and friends were evacuated to Cebu or Manila by military airplanes. Some relatives wanted to convince my father to do the same. Instead, my parents decided to remain. They explained to us that they wanted to take on the responsibility of helping those in need. As the days passed, we helped my father and mother to distribute the relief goods that were starting to arrive and we also visited the survivors of the typhoon”.
Ryan continues: “I thought that I would be overwhelmed by the lack of internet, television … And yet I realized more and more that there is joy and life in meeting people and loving them”. Micha Jane confirms: “Our life became even more simple. My brother mops the floor, I fold the clothes that my mother has washed. We have made a schedule for washing the dishes and my turn is after breakfast and my brother after lunch. We found true joy in helping out. Our days are always more full and satisfying. I understood that true happiness lies in loving”.
Up to now the emergency situation in the zones most affected has not ended: after the wave of emergency aid had passed, with the support of the AMU (Action for a United World) and the AFN (Action for New Families, onlus) of the Focolare Movement, the project to repair and reconstruct around forty housing units has begun. The faith of these families, starting from the littlest ones, in the strength of the Gospel lived and in prayer done together will do the rest.
For anyone who would like to contribute financially:
Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito – Onlus
presso Banca Popolare Etica, filiale di Roma
Codice IBAN: IT16G0501803200000000120434
Codice SWIFT/BIC CCRTIT2184D
Causale: emergenza tifone Haiyan Filippine
AZIONE per FAMIGLIE NUOVE Onlus
c/c bancario n° 1000/1060
Cod. IBAN: IT 55 K 03359 01600 100000001060
Cod. Bic – Swift: BCITITMX
MOVIMENTO DEI FOCOLARI A CEBU
Payable to : Emergency Typhoon Haiyan Philippines
METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY
Cebu – Guadalupe Branch
6000 Cebu City – Cebu, Philippines
Bank Account name: WORK OF MRY/FOCOLARE MOVEMENT FOR WOMEN
Euro Bank Account no.: 398-2-39860031-7
SWIFT Code: MBTCPHMM
Payable to: Help Philippines– Typhoon Haiyan
Tel. 0063 (032) 345 1563 – 2537883 – 2536407