I was crying while escaping the fire

Malabon City, Philippines - Roma, 14, recalled the day a fire engulfed the houses in her neighborhood. "I was so afraid. It was my first time to see a big fire. "I was crying escaping the fire.”

Two people were killed and thousands of residents in an informal settler barangays in Catmon and Tonsuya, Malabon City, lost their homes when two different fire incidents swept through their villages last March 14 and March 17, respectively.

 

In barangay Catmon, nearly a hundred families are still living in a covered basketball court that served as evacuation center for five days. In barangay Tonsuya, families are living in three evacuation centers.

 

Most houses of the affected families---whose main source of livelihood is selling street food, were totally damaged, leaving the families with nothing but a few of their important house items like clothes.

 

Helen, 35, a mother of three, said that the fire in Catmon spread so fast that her family saved nothing. "I almost forgot to save my one-month-old baby. I immediately came back to my house to get my baby. I was thankful nothing happened to her," she says.

 

Rosalinda, 42, cried during an interview with World Vision staff. "I was out when the fire happened. I was shocked when I came back home. All houses were burned down. The first thing that came to my mind was my 2-year-old daughter. My husband and I left her with a neighbor because we were working. I thought I would never see her again. I was thankful she was safe."

 

Roma, who has been living in the evacuation center for five days, says it is difficult to have no house to live in. "There are many mosquitoes in the evening and flies in the morning," she says. Evacuees also expressed fear of possible dengue due to persistent mosquito bites.

 

The fire also burned Roma’s school supplies. Although she has no more books and notebooks, she’s relieved that her final examination was over when the fire happened. She has been excused from attending classes due to her situation.

 

Roma is the fourth child in the family. Her father is a market vendor while her mother does laundry for neighbors. "There are many children here in the evacuation center. It is fun to play with them. But I still miss our house," she says.

 Malabon Fiire

Many of the evacuees have no more houses. Some families are rebuilding their houses from salvaged materials. Some were selling burned house roofs and door grills to junk shops to buy new materials for their houses. Evacuees have been living in cramped spaces at the evacuation centers whilesharing two to four comfort rooms. The local government and other non-government agencies have been distributing food at the evacuation centers.

 

“World Vision is closely coordinating with local governmentto respond to the needs of the affected families. Children's situation especially in this type of emergency is of utmost importance," Maggie Laxamana, World Vision Education and Child Protection Specialist in Luzon, says.“Initially, we target to distribute blankets, mats, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, and kitchen utensils to 1,300 families in Catmon and Tonsuya.

 

 

World Vision currently supports 1500 sponsored children in Malabon and has done previous relief response in the city during the fire incidents last 2010 and February 2014 through food and non-food assistance.Malabon Fire 

You also might be interested in...