Planting Beauty in the Brokenness Left By Typhoon Haiyan

Written by Justine Maceross, Communications Officer ICM-Hong Kong

On 3 March 2014, ICM staff, along with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) and several volunteers, loaded a small pump boat with relief packs — each including hygiene kits, clothing and 40 boxes full of FMSC MannaPacks (packages of nutrient-fortified food) — and climbed aboard. We visited communities on two different islands of the province of Iloilo that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. We met with several families still recovering from the disaster during our visit and listened to their stories of struggling to save enough money to buy the material needed to rebuild their homes, boats or stores. Many families call their current homes “puzzle houses” because they pieced them together from the scraps left behind by the storm.

Anita is 63-years-old and the proud mother of 11 children. Anita laughs when she tells us that Typhoon Haiyan destroyed her entire house except for her toilet. She displays the kind of humor and resilience characteristic of so many Filipinos. Although community members are always smiling and laughing, underlying this resilience is a tiredness and heaviness that comes from facing each day while living in ultrapoverty and having to deal with the all-too-frequent realities of natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan. Currently, Anita’s family lives in a puzzle house like many others whose lives have been turned upside-down by the disaster. The weight of providing food and shelter for her children, especially after a typhoon, is a substantial burden. Anita tells us how helpful the relief packs are because they allow her to save the finances she needs to purchase building materials for a new home.

Anita (on the right) with her daughter (on the left).

Rosella is 54-years-old and has 6 children and 5 grandchildren. She takes care of all of her grandkids during the day while their parents are away. Rosella’s husband, Rodito, works as a contract carpenter and can earn up to PHP250 (US$5.55) on the days he can find work. Rodito’s mother owned a cement home before it was crushed by the typhoon. Rosella continues to open her home to her mother-in-law but Rodito’s mother does not want to leave her home so she built a makeshift home inside the ruins of her old home. Rosella, making the best of the situation, started a garden in a corner of the destroyed house. Rosella loves gardening and is currently growing many different herbal plants. She is creating life and planting beauty despite the brokenness and atrocities left by Typhoon Haiyan.

Rosella in her home, four months after Typhoon Haiyan.

This is ICM’s dream. We want to see hope springing up from these broken and seemingly hopeless places.

Happy and hopeful children standing by their “puzzle house”.


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