Media Contact:Rachel Wolff
Cagayan de Oro, the Philippines, 23 December, 2011— Christian aid agency World Vision says living conditions in evacuation centers set up post Tropical Storm Washi are worsening. Garbage is piling up and dirty water from laundry and bathing areas is fast becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases. Outside of the centers, the stench coming from waist-deep mud and debris is causing further health concerns.
"Hygiene and sanitation is a growing concern particularly in congested evacuation centres. World Vision is educating people on proper waste management to try and prevent the spread of disease but the dwindling water supply is making the situation even worse," said Dr. Yvonne Duque, the aid agency's health specialist and child well-being manager.
World Vision is also working with local health authorities to ensure children get nutritious food. “We’re now working with health authorities for the children’s supplemental feeding. We're also encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies to lower the health risk caused by using feeding bottles that aren't properly washed due to the lack of water," explains Duque.
Pipelines in the city of Cagayan de Oro were badly damaged in the storm, leaving 70 percent of the population without access to water.
Meanwhile, as Christmas approaches just one week after the devastating disaster, World Vision opened its first Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) at the Macasandig tennis courts in Cagayan de Oro City. More than 250 children are expected to participate in workshops there, designed to help them cope with loss and grief. Children will have the opportunity and time to play, interact with other children, and be listened to. World Vision plans to open three more Child-Friendly Spaces in other evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, reaching more than 2,000 child survivors. In all, the aid agency plans to assist 50,000 survivors (10,000 families) with emergency food, emergency items such as soaps, bedding and blankets, and special programs like Child-Friendly Spaces for the youngest survivors.
“This is very timely because Christmas is approaching. We want to give joy and hope to these children,” said Duque. Given the importance of Christmas celebrations in the local culture, the CFS provides the child survivors with a small taste of holiday cheer through carols, dancing, and a bit of merriment amidst the destruction.
One of the child survivors, 11 year old Richard, shares his fears and tells his story through drawings: “I fear flooding because it took away our house including my school stuffs,” explains Richard. Together with the other children in the school, hesang songs, played with toys, and blew bubbles.
“Younger children respond more easily... If they’re in a distressing situation, there’s a major change but if you’re able to reinforce their coping mechanisms, they get back on their feet easily,” Duque explained.
In one activity, the children wrote or draw their hopes and prayers. Richard wrote that he wants to have their house rebuilt very soon. He also prayed, “I hope the flood will never happen again. And I pray that we’ll have Noche Buena (Christmas eve dinner) this Christmas.”
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor — regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews