The aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda on life in Kinatarcan

Father Tito describes the fishing village of Kinatarcan, pre-Typhoon Yolanda, as the “Alaska of the Philippines” thanks to its pristine environment and the bounty of the sea surrounding it.

Now all that is gone.  “The island was one of the worst hit by Typhoon Yolanda. It was cut off and isolated from the rest of the Philippines and the world for several days. Unimaginable damage was sustained,” said Father Tito.

“No less than 95 per cent of the houses on Kinatarcan are now without a roof. Families lost fishing boats and thus their livelihood, forcing them to resort to illegal fishing such as using dynamite. This in turn depletes fishing stocks and damages coral reefs.

“All of the island’s elementary schools, one in each of its three villages, were badly devastated.  And all the children have been traumatised.”

Kinatarcan is close to the heart of SNAF and OSA as it is part of the parish of the Basilica de Santo Niño in Cebu City. Father Aladdin Luzon of OSA and a parish priest administers to the spiritual needs of the Kinatarcan community. He recalls how the churches and chapels on the island have not been spared by Typhoon Yolanda either, with their roofs ripped off and some of their walls broken.

When outside help was able to reach Kinatarcan, several days later, tarpaulins were immediately put up to provide temporary shelter. It is under these makeshift tarpaulins that schooling has resumed for Kinatarcan’s children.

More protective shelter in the form of tents, known as Box Shelters, donated by the Philippines branch of Rotary International, were later erected to house individual families.

But life, as Marilyn can testify, is tough. The box shelters have just enough space for sleeping, she says. She and her family spend most of their time outdoors where they cook and have their meals.

She looks forward to having a proper home again and hopes that it will not be too long a wait.

As it turns out, if all goes well, her prayer may be answered sooner that she imagines.


SNAF’s action plan

When SNAF went into action to work towards the rehabilitation of Kinatarcan, it had formulated a well-thought of plan with clear goals and objectives. Ultimately, the aim of SNAF is to work towards not only recovery and rehabilitation but also to help build resilience within the community in dealing with future calamities.

Principally, the plan is to provide assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of the island’s population comprising children and its young men and women.

To this end, it was felt that a benchmark facility for education, training and community livelihood involving an alternative learning system (ALS) should be set up to cater to those not involved in regular schooling because of poverty and other problems.

As part of the ALS facility, a day care service could be incorporated to replace the three child care centres that were destroyed.  The facility would also provide a safe and healthy learning environment that could serve as a means of integrating group trauma therapy sessions and the development of disaster-preparedness and the response capabilities of small island communities similar to Kinatarcan.

It was felt that whatever programmes are finally drawn up for the young people of Kinatarcan, a comparable programme has to be made available to their parents, especially mothers, to help ensure sustainability. After all, it will be the parents who will be motivated to ensure that their children acquire the necessary alternative learning skills for a better future life.

Among skills that could be taught are the culinary arts or computer training for children, for instance. Parents could also be given training in cooking or house-keeping to prepare for a possible home-stay programme for tourists which can be a useful source of income.

SNAF estimates that its programme will take at least six months to bear fruit.