Mon November 18, 2013
For Filipinos Displaced By Haiyan, The Struggle Continues
Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 6:27 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
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And I'm Melissa Block.
The United Nations now estimates almost two million people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. And many of those survivors now find themselves living in quickly built shacks amidst the debris, without jobs, possessions or community.
NPR's Jason Beaubien has the story of one woman who lost her simple home on the coast of Leyte Province.
JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Ever since Typhoon Haiyan roared ashore and washed away most of her neighborhood, Gelma Cadion can't sleep at night. Between the rain and her stress, she hardly gets any rest at all. She now lives in a tiny sheet metal shack that her husband hammered together. This stretch of sand used to be a neighborhood of small homes set between the main road and the beach.
GELMA CADION: (Through translator) It was beautiful. The houses were beautiful. It's just the very thought of all the things that - of what it looks like now, makes her want to cry. And if you just think and think about how bad it's gotten, because it was so beautiful here, you're just going to go crazy, and also a lot of people died here.
BEAUBIEN: Only two of the neighborhood's dozens of families remain. The typhoon pulverized these homes in to a mash of broken timbers. Cadion's new shack barely protects her family from the elements.
CADION: (Through translator) When it rains there's nothing they can do. The whole thing gets wet and they just have to either stand, maybe sit down, but they can't go to sleep because it's completely wet inside and rain comes in.
BEAUBIEN: Some aid agencies have proposed housing people in tents at least temporarily. But very few tents have been handed out yet. Cadion says she'd be happy with a tent. Anywhere that's dry.
Her 20-year-old son, Manuel, used to have a good job at the local soda bottling plant, but the storm destroyed the plant. Now he scavenges for copper wire to sell for scrap. Manuel pumps water by hand from a well to wash the muddy coils of wire.
Cadion says they need the money to buy rice.
CADION: (Foreign language spoken)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Through translator) So yeah, her life is completely turned upside down. She cries all the time. And she doesn't know what to do because the relief goods are going to run out. There's no work. What's she supposed to do when there's no more food coming from the relief? Two of her children worked at the Pepsi plant and that's how they managed to put up a house. And now there's no Pepsi plant, so there's no work. They don't know what they're going to do.
BEAUBIEN: As stressed out as Cadion is over her current plight and uncertain future, her 15-year-old daughter, Maridel, is even worse. The teenager comes out from the shack to add that school should be on the top of the list of their needs right now.
MARIDEL CADION: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: Her school is now in ruins. Maridel says nobody knows when or if it will reopen.
Cadion says the situation is heartbreaking.
CADION: (Foreign language spoken)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Through translator) She says that her daughter cries every night because she wants to go to school. She wants to go to Manila to be able to study but they don't have any means to get to Manila. They don't have any family in Manila. So they're just going to be here.
BEAUBIEN: The typhoon didn't just pick up all the houses in her neighborhood and shatter them into splinters, it did that for all of Cadion's life. Just like for thousands and thousands of other families here in the Philippines.
Jason Beaubien, NPR News.
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