The Persistent Threat of Typhoons in Southeast Asia
Thousands of homes were destroyed
by Typhoon Washi in the Philippines, in December 2011.
Many countries in Southeast Asia are
vulnerable to typhoons, particularly the Philippines. This group of more than
7,100 islands has been hit by many powerful typhoons in the past, including
Typhoon Washi in December 2011 and Super Typhoon Bopha, a category-5 storm,
in December 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has
designated September as National
Preparedness Month, and
as the month draws to a close, please consider donating to ChildFund's
Emergency Action Fund, a program that enables us to provide emergency aid to
communities affected by typhoons and other natural disasters.
Typhoon Washi, which was known locally as Sendong,
devastated the island of Mindanao on Dec. 16, 2011. Around
52,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the heavy flooding that followed
in the wake of Washi, and many families of children enrolled in our child
sponsorship program were affected. More than 1,200 people lost their lives in
this powerful storm, and many more succumbed to leptospirosis, a serious
bacterial infection, in the weeks following the typhoon.
ChildFund's Emergency Action Fund allows
us to provide urgent assistance to families affected by typhoons like Washi.
In addition to getting emergency supplies such as food, clothing and potable
water to communities most affected by these disasters, this fund also enables
us to create child-centered spaces (CCS), where children receive vital
psychosocial support in the aftermath of natural disasters. The psychological
scars that come from seeing their homes swept away by floodwaters can run
deep, which is why this type of assistance is so crucial in the days and
weeks following a typhoon.
"We feel we've returned the smiles and
laughs they lost, along with their homes and even loved ones, in the flood,"
says Christine, a young girl who volunteered to help with support initiatives
through our local partner in the Philippines after Washi hit. "Some of them
were in terror, when we first started CCS. Their faces glow with sincere
happiness and laughter now."
Preparing for the Worst
As a country
that is particularly vulnerable to typhoons, the Philippines faces a series of
special challenges, among which is implementing emergency preparedness plans.
ChildFund works closely with the Filipino government and other aid
organizations in the country to create emergency response plans to minimize
loss of life and provide families and children in need with ongoing support
after these devastating incidents.
ChildFund has been working in
Malita, a town on the eastern seaboard of Mindanao, for almost 30 years. Our
local partner organization in the area is staffed almost exclusively by
former sponsored children who grew up in the area. With this high level of
experience in the region, we
are able to respond quickly and effectively in times of crisis. Thanks to
the hard work of our local partners, officials say that Malita's disaster
response plan is strong, which is vital when faced with the potential
devastation and loss of life that typhoons like Bopha can bring. Fortunately,
Bopha did not impact the communities where our sponsored children live as
strongly as other regions, but in any case, they were prepared.
of coastal communities evacuated early enough, and there was sufficient
pre-positioning of food packs and medicines," said Thelma Oros, a disaster
risk reduction management officer in Malita, shortly
after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in December 2012.
support of our donors, ChildFund could not help as many children and their
families in times of crisis. To support us in our efforts to save lives,
please consider making a donation to our Emergency Action Fund this National
Preparedness Month. Your generosity will make a world of difference to
communities hit hard by natural disasters.