Children taking the brunt of Typhoon Ompong
After fleeing the deadly landslides in Itogon, Benguet, families affected by Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) families now face an uncertain future.
“Classes will resume on Monday (September 24) and we were advised to vacate the classrooms by then,” said Kim, a mother of two. There are more than 300 families now taking refuge in several schools in Itogon after multiple landslides wreaked havoc in their community. Kim is uncertain where to go. The social welfare department said that tents will be set up for their temporary shelter but she worries about her children, especially her 3-month old baby.
“We want to rent a house for the sake of the kids but without a source of income and with us unable to go back to our houses to at least get some of our things, I’m not sure how our lives would be in the coming days and months,”
Kaycee, a first-time mother, also worries about her baby’s welfare. The suspension of all small mining activities threatens our only source of income, she said. Her family is now sheltered in another elementary school in Itogon, but will also have to leave before classes resume.
“I am still in disbelief. Things happened so fast and this is our first time to experience such devastation. I do not want to go back to our house for now,” she shared, explaining that although their house was not damaged, it is in between two landslide areas. The family was isolated for at least a day or two after the typhoon. If the weather will not cooperate, continuous raining could also totally damage their house.
Children taking the brunt of typhoon Mangkhut
With the loss of livelihood and shelter, children like Kim and Kaycee’s are the most vulnerable. Without income, parents are unable to provide for their families’ immediate needs.
“My first child is also going back to school on Monday with nothing. We were not able to carry everything with us because we had to hike for more than 3 kilometers to reach safety. We had to leave most of our things, including his school materials,” shared Kim.
Added Kaycee, “We are blessed to have received an overwhelming support from individuals and different groups. We were not lacking in foods in the past days that we were here.”
“If it is not too much, however, we also need help so we can start rebuilding and bounce back from what happened.” Families have expressed the need for alternative livelihood so they can start anew.
The national disaster risk reduction and management council reported that as of September 20, more than 1.3 million people across North Luzon have been affected by the typhoon. Farming communities suffered the most, with USD250 Million estimated loss in the agriculture sector. Meanwhile, Cordillera Administrative Region has the highest death toll, mostly due to landslides.
World Vision is committed to working alongside government and other agencies in helping the hardest hit families get back on their feet.
“There is an urgent need for life-saving help. Children desperately need aid – and fast. We are also very concerned about child protection issues in the wake of the typhoon. It’s vital that we’re on the ground ready to provide psychological first aid and protection for children who need it most,” said World Vision’s national director Rommel Fuerte.
The organization has started distributing relief items in the province of Cagayan and will start distributing in Itogon, Benguet on September 21. Child-friendly spaces will also be set up to cater to the psychosocial needs of children who went through or witnessed the harrowing impact of Ompong. Early recovery efforts for livelihoods and shelter are in the pipeline.