Passerelles numeriques Philippines found a way to extend help to the families of our scholars from Cebu and the neighboring islands through giving financial aid and conducting stress debriefing sessions. The staff conducted a total of eight debriefing sessions with the families of which thirty-eight family members attended and four debriefing sessions with the students affected by Typhoon Odette. The debriefing and distribution of the financial aid were held in Dalaguete National High School, Alcoy National High School, Pinamungajan Municipal Social Work, and Development Office, Badian Day Care Center, Clarin Day Care Center, and San Alberto Carmelite Formation Center from March 2-April 1, 2022.
The debriefing allows the families and the students affected by typhoon Odette to process the event and reflect on its impact. During the sharing of their experience, most of the families described their experience as the most terrifying typhoon in history. They could never forget the sound of the wind and the aftermath that the typhoon brought. During the onslaught of the typhoon, all of the families stayed at home and prepared their houses for the possible damage that the typhoon will bring. Although they were prepared, the very strong winds blew on their roofs and other belongings. A father expressed his fear of hearing the rumbling noises from the mountains as if it was running over his house. He went out to see big rocks that fell from the mountain to the lower ground brought by the powerful wind. He can’t help but cry when he remembers the experience. They made sure all their family members were safe, especially the children. One family recalled that they evacuated from their house because it was blown away by the strong wind, and they found shelter in a cave where eight family members were cramped in a tight space. Flashlights of mobile phones and candles helped them when the power was out. The next day, they cleaned and repaired materials and structures that can still be used. With the scarcity of food and water, they expressed that they rely on their farm products such as cabbage, lettuce, and potatoes to survive. Some families expressed sadness over the loss of the agricultural crops that served as their food on a daily basis. They also made use of coconut water as their normal water for the meantime while waiting for the government’s help. One of the parents shared that what helped their family survive for a couple of days was their emergency kit where they store clothes and food. They felt the Bayanihan Spirit emerged through everyone in their place through cooperation and helping without expecting anything in return.
At present, some of the families shared that their temporary shelter is there their pigpen and used the tarpaulins for their roofing and some stayed in their damaged house and used what has been left in the typhoon in order for them to have a shelter. The current state of the families affects their morale since the house signifies their family bond and hope. The fear and anxiety are not yet totally gone especially when bad weather occurs. We helped them process their emotions by assuring them that everything will be okay in time and that PN will always be ready to help especially by providing quality education and employability to their children. On the other hand, we shared our own experiences specifically on what happened with the scholars’ in the center. They are thankful that their children were safe and were able to go home.
Gratitude lit up the faces of the parents upon knowing that they will receive financial help. They expressed that no amount is too big or too small if it comes from the heart. The assistance that they received will be used to rebuild their destroyed homes and if there are some left, add up to their savings for future use. They expressed their gratitude to PN not just for providing education to their children but for extending help in times of crisis as well.