From Solitude to Solidarity: Paz’s Story

by Naja Fragante, MEAL Officer, Manila

Paz, a 66-year-old woman who lives by herself, is one of the thousands affected by Typhoon Melor (locally named “Nona”) in Northern Samar, Philippines. While all her children are in Metro Manila taking care of their own families, she gets by on her own by selling vegetables or by helping out with others’ household needs. She earns very little doing these small jobs.

paz nona

Paz fits herself in a small unstable makeshift shelter after Typhoon Melor completely destroyed her house. Photo by: Naja Fragante. December 2015.

During the typhoon, she recalled how the strong winds took destroyed most of her house. Even worse, an uprooted tree beside her house fell on her kitchen, leaving her house in complete wreckage. “Hindi pa nga buong nakaka recover mula nung bagyong Ruby, tapos eto na naman” (I haven’t even recovered from the previous typhoon yet (Typhoon Ruby), and now here comes another one), she mentioned with teary eyes.

Right after the typhoon, she was able to earn a small amount which she used to pay someone to rebuild whatever was left of her house. This only resulted to a poorly made small and unstable makeshift shelter. She said she was afraid that the whole thing would fall on her, especially when she said an earthquake was felt just a few days after the typhoon. She was also concerned because when it became windy, parts of her makeshift house would make a lot of noises and she worried the temporary roof would eventually blow off. She mentioned how she finds it very difficult to recover because she earns very little and has no one else to depend on or even to find comfort from.

Paz was overjoyed when she received an emergency shelter kit (large tarp, pail of nails, rope, and hammer) and tool kit (shovel, crow bar, chisel, tape measure and hand saw) from Catholic Relief Services (CRS). She was filled with gratitude as she knows she couldn’t afford these materials on her own. She is thankful to CRS staff, who came all the way from different parts of the Philippines to personally hand these lifesaving items to her and appreciates all the donors, who contributed to ease her suffering from a distance.

In her solitude she found people who still cared to help her- in an act of solidarity- acting as one interdependent, human family. With the help, she said she could now sleep at ease, confident that her house would not blow apart, fall on her, and would keep her dry as the rain continued to pour down during the wet season.

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