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Michael in the Philippines Update #6: In Need of Clean Water
Unloaded 13 tons of aid this morning for the Salvation Army that amounts to about 9,000 meals. It took 13 or so of us just over an hour of lifting. We were covered from head to toe in sweat afterwards. That food will be distributed tomorrow, and we will be helping them load it for those distributions.
We have also been making our smaller food runs to other displaced members who are stranded at their chapels. The conditions at a few of these chapels are simply deplorable. You cannot imagine how dirty or wet they are. We have been delivering small water supplies, and that is what they are drinking for that day. Two families we delivered to were literally jumping up and down when we arrived with some water for them. We have started seeing members resorting to drinking tap water, which has become contaminated. I asked Andoi to try to find some industrial grade water filters that can be installed at each chapel so the members can at least have fresh water and also so they won't rely on us bringing it to them daily. I would say water is the number one issue right now, not just for members but for everyone. We are still drinking the water we brought with us from Cebu.
There is an older single man living in one of our chapels, still injured & recovering, he has lost his wife and two children. He showed us the piece of debris that saved his life, by clinging to it. We gave him a enough food and water to last him several days, as he had none when we found him there.
Transport remains an issue for most members as many cars were destroyed, and gas is very expensive and somewhat hard to find (though fuel is becoming more available). We are also trying to get some bigger trucks to make it do we don't have to do food runs daily.
A volunteer member named Taylor Stockwell arrived today and will be working with Andoi and I. We are trying to get another car for him and another Philippine volunteer named Peter so we can double our capacity.
Oh how I wished the children of America could witness the 6 year old boy I saw today struggling to carry a plastic bladder of water home to his family. It was clearly too heavy for him, so he would carry it 20 feet and set it down to rest. Carry it another 20 and rest and all I could think about is how well we have it in America where our children do not have to stand in line for water and carry it home.
I also wish you could see the gratitude of the church member children when I shared a single M & M with each of them. They were elated to have a single piece of candy.
They started selling cold soda at the airport, so when I picked Taylor up, I used the $20 someone donated and bought the members 3 cases of ice cool pop. They were very excited about this, it was their first soda in 2 weeks.
The longer I'm here the more I realize how completely overwhelming the situation is. For the survivors, the current conditions are much worse and much more wide spread than Haiti or Japan, I think because of the low death toll, it is easy to dismiss how bad things are. When you drive around and actually see it, the concept of trying to comprehend it is overwhelming.
We will continue to hustle to serve the Stake President and do whatever we can for the members, as well as the people of Tacloban.
P.S. Took my first "shower" today since I left Cagayan (4 days). It was a cold bucket bath of dirty water in the corner of the compound I am staying. I must say it was quite refreshing!
First major food delivery from Salvation Army
I'm making some great friends here