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    Posted February 8, 2012 by
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    Life Event: Operation VALENTINES, Time – More Precious than Gold (Part 1)

    4 February 2012, Saturday

    The words we speak are useless until proven by our actions.

    Watching how the lives of so many were lost during Typhoon Sendong has a way of reminding us how fleeting life is. Life changed for so many that day. Surely, we can never know what lies ahead and how things will turn up just around life’s bend.

    One thing for certain though, we couldn’t just sit down, read the news and accept it as it is. Something had to be done – we have to do something; anything.

    It would have been the normal course to pack some clothes, canned goods, water and drop it off to the nearest drop off points where organizations would freely get your donations, and take charge in taking these to where it is needed. That’s the usual. That’s the norm – to just let somebody else do the rest, after dropping off a few relief goods, thinking that – we’ve done our part; let someone else do the dirty work.

    Somehow, ‘normal’ is not in our vocabulary. We had to do something more; take a few extra steps – get involved and get dirty, so to speak. So that’s what a handful of friends and myself did. First thing we did was secure the airline tickets – to make sure that, whatever happens, we’re going through with this, one way or another. We then gathered personal stuff – anything we can find, carry and share. The daughter of Veron packed toys and put it at the back of the cab Veron was taking to the airport, without Veron knowing. So when Veron opened the trunk to get down her stuff, what a pleasant and touching surprise. The kids of Shine took a quarter of what they got for Christmas and bought soap, tooth brush, noodles, canned goods; my kids and I – we got books – a lot of it – the whole caboodle from grade 1 to grade 6, covering all subjects – math, science, English, reading, writing, language, Christian living; even story books my kids have outgrown. Somehow, when each one does something, no matter how little it may seem to be, when we put it all together, it does make a lot of difference.

    Leaving our comfort zone, we took a 90 minute flight, traveling over 830 kilometers (515 miles) from Manila to Cagayan de Oro. From there, we traveled via land for almost 2 hours to Iligan, over 90 kilometers (55.9 miles) away.

    Here at our first stop – Barangay Mandulog. We spoke to the Barangay Captain – there are over 60 families here; with about 150 children. Since Typhoon Sendong hit their area last December 2011, they have had no electricity – up to this very time. People live in tents, or make shift areas - each given a 2m x2m space; if I were to lay down, my head would be touching one end of the wall and my feet, the other end. All their possessions, hardly anything as it is now, are cramped in this tiny space, which each family – some as much as 8 people, share. And if no electricity was bad enough, this community shares one pump which is their only source of water. Food supplies don’t come regularly – sometimes taking two weeks before they are supplied with food and the bare necessities.

    The team started to prepare. Taking the relief goods out of the vehicle, we all scrambled to do something. Shine, Bien and Andrew helped prepare the food, cooked over wood, it’ll take a couple of hours – in time for some afternoon soup for the people. Veron, Lia, Tasha and Trisha got the school supplies ready, sorting it out – preparing these to be given to the kids so they would have something to do.

    Getting the kids together was great. Seeing the smiles in their faces takes makes us forget how tired we may be. You will not see in their faces the tragedy they have gone through – though it will show one way. For now, it may be that their tears have run dry – for them, they have to live on day at a time. To them, a future would seem pretty dim – considering that they live by whatever meager resources are before them.

    (Continue to Life Event: Operation VALENTINES, Time – More Precious than Gold (Part 2)
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