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I arrived in the Philippines four days ago, just 24 hours after Super Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall. Three days after landing in Manilla, we have already managed to do our first emergency distribution. I am proud of our team! We have been running around non-stop, doing assessments and purchasing material so that we could distribute relief items as soon as possible.

Landing on the beach in Linawan village

MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) told us about four communities that seemed to be among the most severely hit, and where no one else was helping. The people who live here are extremely isolated and relief can only get to them by air or boat.

The typhoon hit them first, as they are on the northeastern coast, and they were not well-prepared because the area is not covered by telecommunication services (yes, that means no radio, cell signal, or internet).

This morning, I flew out at 8 am with a helicopter chartered by MAF. We went to Tabugan, a village made up of 43 families, the majority of whom sustained damage to their homes and lost their crops. We brought in tarps, ropes, and tools—or what we call a basic emergency shelter kit—and enough rice for a family to eat for a week.

I had just been in Tabugan the previous day to do a shelter assessment with my colleague and shelter advisor Patricia, and we had stopped at Susana’s house. She has five children, aged 7 to 16. I asked her to tell me about the typhoon, and this is what she told me:

“Last Friday evening, as we were getting ready to go to bed, the wind started blowing really strongly. I have experienced typhoons before but this one was very scary. My 14-year-old daughter has heart issues, and she was so scared she started having palpitations. We have a clinic in our village but no medical staff and no medication. If something very serious had happened to her, I would not have been able to save her.

“The wind and rain got so bad that I took cover under the table with my children. We stayed under the table for 12 hours, until the typhoon passed. We only came out to get food and water. The roof of our house is made of corrugated sheeting and the storm broke it. My husband and I own a field where we grow rice and vegetables; it was completely destroyed. We have not been able to save any of it.”

I was glad to be able to hand her the shelter kit and the bag of rice the very next day. We didn’t give her much, considering her needs, but she and her neighbours were so grateful for the simple fact that we had come from very far away to stand with them. At the end of the distribution, Susana came up to me and took me in her arms. “Thank you very much for coming,” she said.

Before we left, the barangay’s kagawad (the head of the community) called for the local pastor to come and pray for us. Before the pastor prayed, Marcello, the kagawad, thanked us and started to cry. I have rarely seen a community leader show his emotions, no matter how grateful he was. It was a beautiful, humbling moment.

Thank you for joining with Medair in supporting gifts of emergency food and shelter for devastated families affected by disaster in the Philippines.

Patricia verifies the shelter kits before distribution.

Medair emergency response in the Philippines was made possible through the generous support of our private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.