Plan is helping families piece their lives back together after Typhoon Bopha coursed across the Philippines. About 300,000 people in Davao Oriental on Mindanao have been affected by the typhoon, known locally as Pablo, which ripped through communities with winds of up to 160 mph.
“This typhoon has come right at the end of the Pacific Storm Season, but there are days when it is still raining. Of the houses that are still standing in affected communities, the majority don't have roofs, so homes are open to the elements and it’s harder for families to recover,” says Carin van de Hor, Country Director of Plan Philippines.
Some people are beginning to rebuild their homes, but not everyone has the money or resources to do this. Plan is distributing tarpaulins to families in need so that they can at least cover the gaping holes where their roofs used to be.
Struggling to cope
Most people are farmers – growing coconuts, bananas or rice – but plantations full of crops have been destroyed, so parents are worrying about how they are going to make a living and support their children in future. “It will take 10 years for us to grow those trees again. They were planted by our grandfathers,” explains coconut farmer Jayffray. Vast numbers of boats were destroyed so those who usually fish for a living can't go to sea.
“In the near future, we can start doing short-term cash-for-work or even food-for-work projects. Looking at the bigger picture, it's going to take a lot of determination and flexibility on the part of the people. Farmers, for example, may need to diversify the kind of crops they harvest, while fishermen will need to earn money from elsewhere if they are to get new boats,” says Carin van der Hor.
As families struggle to rebuild their homes and lives, many children are having a hard time processing what they've been through. “I'm scared of having an accident or getting wounded. I get worried any time I see a wounded person now. I've seen many wounded people,” says Alyza, whose father, Alex, a pedicab driver by trade, has noticed a change in behaviour among all of his children.
Keeping children safe
“Mentally, the children have changed. They were playing like normal before, but now when there's a wind or any rain, they run and hide for shelter. They call out for their parents and get very scared with any loud noises. They can't sleep and wake up suddenly in the night and start crying,” he says.
Carin van der Hor explains that many of the children affected by Bopha are exhibiting classic signs of serious distress. “We've seen that some of the children in affected communities have been struggling to cope with what they've endured. They're barely interacting with their families and not speaking a great deal.”
As part of its emergency response across Mindanao, Plan’s experts will offer support to severely affected children and families to address their emotional, social and mental needs and heal psychological wounds. Longer-term psychological problems can develop without such an intervention.
“It's important for those whose lives have been so seriously altered to talk about what they've been through and to come to terms with it. The children need to return to some semblance of normality as soon as possible. They need to play and to enjoy themselves once again. This is why we're setting up child-friendly spaces across the region where the girls and boys can relax and digest their experiences,”
The child-friendly spaces are also important in keeping children safe – with no school to go to, they are left to their own devices and there are risks, not just from debris and vulnerable buildings, but also from abuse and exploitation. Plan will also prioritise getting children back to school.
Help us assist the families affected by the typhoon. Donate now to Plan's appeal.
Find out more about our work in the Philippines.