Giving hope to the fire survivors of Catmon
By Kimberly Gutierrez, World Vision Communications Intern
After the February 8 fire in Malabon, a great day in the city would be to wake up to the sound of trucks hauling tons of relief goods for the victims of the fire. For the thousands of families cramped up in the evacuation center of Barangay Catmon, today is one of those mornings.
Nine-year-old JM woke up to a hubbub of voices and shouting. He looked around and realized his mother was no longer beside him. He felt a pang of apprehension in his heart, the same thing he felt that night the fire broke out in their community. Running barefoot, he began to frantically search for his mother in the busy streets of Catmon only to find a World Vision relief truck slowly rounding the corner instead.
JM breathed a sigh of relief—finally, he felt safe.
Aiming to reach 1,300 people in its relief effort, World Vision is amongst the first NGOs to arrive in the barangay of more than a thousand families, a positive sign that the situation for survivors of the 5th alarm fire is at last beginning to improve. JM found his mother hopefully waiting in line.
“I like it better here in the park; it’s cooler than sleeping in the court,” JM shared. For more than a week now, families are still packed together in the evacuation centers in Catmon. Living conditions in the covered court are grim. Evacuation centers are divided into tiny living areas, water sources are crowded by people, and some family members even had to take turns to sleep.
“I skipped today’s class, they might laugh at me!” JM exclaimed as some of his neighbors pulled him towards the Child Friendly Spaces, an intervention program for children set up by World Vision. He had red patches over his left cheek when he woke up this morning, something he got from sleeping on the ground. Other children also suffer from skin rashes and are exposed to vector-borne diseases such as dengue.
“Aside from the housing star-up materials, the immediate needs of the people, as validated by the city government, are more on hygiene kits. They are living in a challenging sanitation environment and mosquito-prone area,” Chifadel Mabolo, World Vision staff said.
To respond to the critical needs of children and families, World Vision distributed relief items which included sleeping mats, blankets and mosquito nets and bath soaps to more than 1,000 affected families.
“Let’s continue to uphold the children and families affected by the fire. We also appeal to everyone to stand with the survivors in these trying times. Your help can go a long way,” World Vision Associate Director for Operations, Annie Ronquillo said.
Clinging tightly to the relief good which was bigger than him, JM can’t wait to go back to the evacuation center he now calls “home.” Instead of carrying the sack of relief goods over his shoulder, JM looks forward to carrying his backpack soon. Somewhere outside this crowded covert court is a way back home.World Vision/February 24, 2017