Hygiene training and relief goods for 615 families

by Judith Kühl/SHU,  2011/11/07

For five weeks, humedica has been supporting the victims of the floods caused by two typhoons and ongoing heavy rainfalls on the northern island of the Philippines. Water levels in the flooded regions are retreating only slowly. Thousands of people are still living in flooded houses and huts. On last Saturday we could provide drinking water and urgently needed sanitary articles to 615 families.

Also adults still need to learn: during a training measure, the Filipinos are taught how important it is to implement certain hygienic measures. Photo: humedica/Judith Kühl

Today it’s Saturday, and today it's a school day. For Ana this is unusual. For five weeks, the seven-year old girl has been sent to school also on the weekends. When two typhoons blew over her village in the Bulacan Region, 50 kilometres north of Manila, and heavy downpours flooded houses and fields, also Ana's school did not escape the disaster. Up to this day the class rooms on the ground floor are flooded. Lessons can only be held in the few dry rooms and must therefore also take place on Saturdays.

The consequences of the severe weather of the past few weeks are omnipresent: many houses and huts are under water, rice fields have been turned into swamps. Due to ongoing rainfalls, the water is retreating only slowly.

An elderly woman indicates her breast when she tells us about the level the water had reached five weeks ago. Now it only reaches her ankle, she says contently. Optimism is one of the basic characteristics of most of the Filipinos.

It's Saturday, and the school is very busy. Hundreds of the village's inhabitants have formed a long queue in front of the entrance. Adults are sitting on chairs, forming circles in the schoolyard, and receive lessons. During her long lunch break, Ana carefully examines this situation. Today, not only children have to attend school.

humedica promotes hygiene training measures for adults in the crisis region. Shyly, Ana is standing at the edge of a circle of chairs and curiously looks into the buckets that the adults take home with them after the training measure. They contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, detergent for washing dishes and clothes and towels, which are distributed by humedica and our partner Operation Blessing.

Besides the distribution of food, the distribution of sanitary articles such as toothpaste, soap or detergent is of great importance. Photo: humedica/Judith Kühl

62-year old Mary sorts through her bucket's content already in the schoolyard and then she explains in Tagalog, which in rural areas is spoken more frequently than English: "This is exactly what I need. Other relief organisations distributed food. But we are lacking sanitary articles." Dakila, Arnel, Gani, Jay, many of the village's inhabitants shake my hand and greet me with a friendly "salama po" - "thank you very much".

What is also unusual, are the hundreds of blue water cans standing in the schoolyard. Lost in her thoughts, Ana touches them with her hand, as she brushes past them. Every family is provided with a ten-litre can that is filled for a first time using the water preparation unit we brought with us. For the next few days, the unit will remain stationed at the school, so that families will continue to have access to clean water.

While a man is waiting for his water can to be filled, he presses it firmly to his breast with both hands. He tells his wife, who is standing next to him, that he has to take good care of the can. In the meantime, his wife is looking at her new towels. She answers that she, in turn, has to pay close attention that no one will take her towels, as she does not have any left.

After four hours, the queue in front of the entrance has melted away. At a little table at the entrance, where every family was registered by name, we are counting: The training measure and distribution was attended by 465 families.

Those waiting are looking forward to receiving their sanitary articles already before the distribution starts. Photo: humedica/Judith Kühl

The schoolyard is turning quiet once more and the pupils are slowly returning to their class rooms after the lunch break. Also Ana slowly turns her back to the unusual events in the schoolyard. She jumps up the stairs to her class room. The school bell rings and Ana still has to learn some vocabulary.

Although a further distribution on last Saturday to another 150 persons in a neighbouring village was complicated by another downpour, it could nevertheless be concluded successfully. Large parts of the Bulacan Region are still flooded. Further severe weather conditions are not exactly contributing to a relaxation of the situation.

Also during the next few weeks, we will continue to support those affected and provide them with relief goods. Thank you very much for supporting our efforts by means of a targeted donation. Salama po!

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Flood Relief Asia
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can achieve great things by means of pressing only a few keys and sending a text message: Simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to 8 11 90. By doing so, you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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