The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippines on Tuesday morning severely devastated the Island of Bohol, where one of our ICM Bases is located. The ICM staff were at home enjoying their public holiday when the earthquake struck. The ICM Bohol Base employs 54 staff who work with over 600 partner pastors, but with the majority of ICM’s leaders traveling on a plane to Hong Kong on Tuesday for a leadership training, this became the first crisis for our new leader, Minierva Lahaylahay, who has just been promoted to interim Area Head of Bohol.
Minierva and a few others sought refuge in the ICM office immediately after the earthquake and began calling other staff to find out if they were safe. Thankfully everyone was able to escape with their families uninjured. Part of the ICM office collapsed and thankfully Johnson and his family, who live at the ICM office, were able to escape unharmed. Johnson had just returned from Hong Kong after staring In the ICM musical, ‘The One’ for the ICM HK Banquet.
ICM is not set up for disaster relief, however, unwilling to stand by and watch, the ICM Bohol team began contacting our partner pastors and strategizing how to get much needed food and water to these pastors in their communities of need. Using the Kids Against Hunger (KAH) food products donated to ICM, our Bohol team was able to respond by helping the local government through a delivery of over 4,000 parcels of food to the local evacuation command center just hours after a second smaller earthquake shook the island again. ICM will continue to partner with the government in response to the crisis, planning further delivery of food products and for the ICM social worker to base at the command center to facilitate.
Operations to program areas are on hold as the situation remains unstable but the Bohol team remains active, responding when possible to those in need. As days pass and the area begins to recover, we expect to hear more about the impact and amazing stories of recovery that have become the hallmark of the Philippine character, as they cope with and overcome more natural disasters in an average year than the average nation would have to cope with in a lifetime. Here is the latest from our ICM Bohol Area Head:
“Good afternoon, it’s been 3 days since the 7.2 earthquake struck our province in Bohol…and we are still experienced after shocks. Just yesterday we experienced another 5.5 earthquake, but I am confident enough that we are all in God’s care, so please continue to pray for us.
“Our network of partner pastors have been coming to our ICM Office, calling and texting us for help. They need food, water, medicine and blankets, some are even asking for tarps that they can cover themselves with from the heat and rain. We have responded to almost 30 of our partner pastors, who each care for about 25 individual households and we expect more calls and texts before this day ends. So far we’ve distributed almost 30,000 parcels of food, 408 bottles of water and blankets that were donated from Shangrila.
“Our network of partner pastors are overwhelmed and grateful with the immediate response we have given to them and their needs. Going to areas far from the ICM Bohol Base is much more challenging because most of the bridges and roads collapsed or were destroyed during the earthquake; but it seems that through our partnership with the Bohol Provincial Government we can reach our hand even to those who are hard to reach.
Thank you very much for your undying love and support; it is always a blessing to be a blessing to someone. The entire staff of Bohol are grateful that our families are okay because it gives us an opportunity that we can help others beside our families.”
-Minierva, ICM interim Area Head of Bohol