Homesick brothers want to go back to their village
“I want to go home. I miss our village,” says Joshua, 18, who has been living in a small space in an evacuation center for two weeks now.
Joshua and his family reside in the eight-kilometer danger zone of Mayon Volcano. Life in their community is simple. Most people farm or raise animals for a living. “Mayon is much closer and bigger from our village. But when it erupted and spewed lava and ashes, we were all afraid. It seemed to have lost its temper. It looked angry,” Joshua shares.
Families in Joshua’s village evacuated after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the danger of Mayon volcano to alert level 4 (in a scale of 5) last January 22.
“It’s difficult to live here in the evacuation center because of the ashes that we breathe every day,” he says, adding that the only protection they have against the ash are face masks.
The evacuation center where Joshua lives is located in an agriculture and forestry college where plants and trees are abundant. “Look at all those plants. They are now gray because of ashes,” Joshua says, pointing at the plants. He adds, “When there’s wind, ashes get inside our rooms.”
Their sleeping space is also vulnerable to both ashes and mosquitoes. “We don’t want to stay inside the room because it’s already full,” he explains. The room has around 100 people, mostly children, sleeping inside. The male members of the family would usually sleep outside, on chairs or tables.
Joshua’s father, Mariano, is a farmer. He usually leaves the evacuation center to check their house in the village, then will go back at night. At alert level 4, it is prohibited to stay in communities within 8 kilometer from the foot of Mayon.
Joshua’s mother, Elvie, sells rice cakes. She leaves in the morning, at around 5, and comes back late in the afternoon. “I take care of my younger siblings when my parents are away,” Joshua says.
He and his siblings, Jillian, 17, and Elmar, 9, have not yet returned to school due to the dangers posed by volcanic activity. “We don’t know when we’re going back to school. But I brought my bag and books,” says Elmar.
Though Elmar admits missing school he also enjoys living in the evacuation center. “I have lots of playmates here,” he says, giggling.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC) reported that as of January 31 there are already 23,250 families and 89,828 persons from Albay municipalities of Bacacay, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Daraga, Tabaco City, Malilipot, Santo Domingo, and Legazpi City.
World Vision in the Philippines aims to complement the government-led response and provide urgent aid to at least 2,000 families or 10,000 people.World Vision/January 31, 2018