Baptist Global Response

Areas in Philippines still damaged, but Baptists commit to help

Many people in the Philippines have yet to recover from Typhoon Haiyan. They find shelter wherever they can. Children go to school under trees or tarps, and the government has ordered 4,000 families in one area to move inland. Those people earn their living fishing, and they will have difficulty providing for their families in the future.

Months after the storm hit, Tennessee Baptists haven’t forgotten Filipinos. They adopted a portion of northern Cebu and committed to helping residents reconstruct their homes and their lives. Volunteers from the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief recently visited the island to assess damage. Upon arrival, the team decided to focus on the Bogo municipality, which sustained enormous damage.

BGR Volunteer Coordinators Marvella Thompson and her husband, Glen, travelled with the team and said they assessed several schools.

“In many of the schools, the children are meeting under trees or some have tarps,” Marvella said. “They are doubling up in the classrooms, but in the Philippine public school system there are generally 45 - 60 children in one classroom already.”

Most of those schools were located off the main roadways, and Thompson said those institutions had heard the government wouldn’t be able to look at them for three-to-four years.

In addition to inspecting schools, the team traveled to several areas, surveying damage and deciding what projects it should undertake in the future. Thompson said the storm damaged government buildings, concrete homes and churches as well as educational facilities. Residents needed a lot of assistance.

“We have been amazed at the stamina of the people and how much they are doing to clean up, but so many are living in tents or tarp covered shacks because they have no means to rebuild,” she said.

After surveying damage and needs, the team developed several plans including the provision of a water pipeline for one school, the replacement of the posts and roof in an open-air building for another and the construction of six classrooms and a feeding center for a third school. Thompson said they also planned to help repair and rebuild damaged homes.

But, there was still a lot to do. She hoped churches could send volunteers with the experience needed to work alongside Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief workers and help it come through with its commitments. However, she encouraged everyone to help rebuild.

Thompson asked that people pray for:

• God to send teams with demolition and/or construction expertise.
• God to move in the hearts of the people, blessing them with the desire for Truth.
• Volunteers to sense places in which He is already at work so they might join Him there. The need is so vast, BGR partners find it difficult to comprehend the devastation and know where to begin.

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