Hygiene items given to families living in Cebu’s coastal towns to prevent diseases

With water supply gradually being restored in some parts of Cebu, a province in central Philippines, World Vision recently distributed hygiene kits to families affected by Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) to prevent post-calamity diseases from poor hygiene and sanitation.

Siblings Nathaniel, 13, Enrique, 11, and Mary Rose, 5, were all smiles when their mother, Nena returned home with the hygiene kit. The siblings curiously looked inside and found soaps, toothpastes and toothbrushes among the items. There was also a colorful malong (a tube skirt) usually worn by female but can be used as blanket.

“This is mine!” Rose says, seeing a toothbrush for children in the box.

“And these are mine!” Enrique says, holding the toothpastes, teasing his sister. But Rose ignored him. She didn’t seem to get the point that her toothbrush won’t be of any use without the toothpastes.

The brothers laughed at their youngest sibling’s innocence.

Looking at their children, Nena and Edward were amused. “It’s a sort of gift to them,” Nena, 42, says, explaining that most of the relief items they received were in plastics and mostly food. This is the first time they’ve received such items.

Nena and Edward’s family used to live in a single-room apartment fronting the sea. Edward says that they all ran to a relative’s house located in a much higher ground before Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) pummeled their house. “When I came back after the storm, I saw our walls completely gone. And what’s inside our house were those rocks,” the 49-year-old father says, pointing at the rocks on the ground as big as a liter of soda. “Our things were scattered outside, some are missing such as our washing machine. We even lost our clothes. What we’re using now are clothes that our relatives lend and gave us.” The family currently lives in an apartment next door that has no door.

Another family also lost their things to Typhoon Odette. “We’ve lost the things we’ve bought for years,” says Rosellie, 41, looking at the rubble outside her house. Rosellie estimates that they’ve lost around Php400,000 worth of appliances they bought through the years. “Everything’s gone. Look at our two motorcycles, they’re not working anymore.”

Rosellie also lives near the sea. When Typhoon Odette’s 195kph winds made a landfall in Cebu last December 17, those living in coastal communities were severely affected.

Rosellie has been World Vision’s volunteer for 15 years. She has four children, who are all doing well with their study. Her youngest, Julliane, 8, and a World Vision sponsored child, has been a class top performer.

 

Her husband, Julito, 42, earns from being a local government official and as fisherman. But the boat that the family received as livelihood assistance from the Philippine government was also reduced to pieces. “We’re only relying on my husband’s monthly allowance now,” Rosellie says.

She continues, “What I’m grateful now is that our family is complete and unharmed.” Rosellie’s family also received World Vision’s hygiene kits.

She appreciates the assistance coming from various government agencies and organizations, such as World Vision. “Prices of basic goods are more expensive now. Relief items help us save what little money left we have in our pockets to buy other basic needs such as drinking water.” Prices of basic commodities in Cebu has since doubled.

The Philippine’s Department of Health (DOH) recorded over 100 cases of acute gastroenteritis and diarrhea in Central Visayas and Caraga. In Cebu, there are reported 16 cases of diarrhea. The DOH in Region 7 advised residents to boil water to avoid such diseases.

Two weeks after Typhoon Odette left massive destruction, thousands displaced and hundreds of dead along its path, World Vision reaches over 4000 families in the typhoon-stricken provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Surigao del Norte, and other hard-hit areas in the Visayas and Mindanao. World Vision has distributed relief items, such as hygiene kits, sleeping mats, kitchen and cooking sets, and emergency shelter kits which consist of tarpaulins and ropes among others.