On December 16, 2021, a powerful super typhoon, Typhoon Odette, rampaged through parts of the Philippines. The area where we live, Eastern Samar, was not affected too much, but other areas suffered greatly as a result of this massive storm. The areas southwest of us, Maasin, Bohol and Southern Leyte were worst hit.
There was an immediate outcry from officials in those areas for help from within the Philippines as travel restrictions caused by the pandemic made it impossible for outside NGO’s to enter the Philippines to help. We in the Oikos Community responded to their need. Led by the Holy Spirit, Sister Mines, our Elder Servant, researched the areas of Southern Leyte looking for a town we would be able to help, and she was led to a small town on Panaon Island called Ponod. It is comprised of 206 families and is located at the base of a large mountain facing the Pacific Ocean. During the storm, they were assailed by landslides from the mountain, large waves from the ocean and strong winds that destroyed even cement homes. Quite miraculously, no one in the town died from the storm, however 28 homes were completely washed out from the ocean, 80 homes were totally destroyed and 71 homes were partially destroyed! Not only that, but the storm wreaked havoc on the coconut trees, the source of livelihood for the residents of Ponod. It will be at least 7 years until they will be able to earn a living from the coconut trees again.
On January 17, 2022, the Oikos Community traveled to Ponod, Southern Leyte (an 8 hour drive) with 4 vehicles loaded down with clothes, food, 500 grocery packs, health packs, basins, blankets, cooking equipment and about 20 volunteers! We stayed in Ponod for three days. We gave the families there our food, grocery and health packs, we taught the kids how to properly brush their teeth, we had a good grooming day where the people got a shampoo, hair cut and their nails trimmed, we did catechism with the children and had some psych-social support sessions with the youth and the adults who were suffering emotionally from the storm. We shared all our meals with the people of Ponod, sang songs with them, prayed with them and played with them!
But this is a “Mission in Progress.” We plan on returning to Ponod to help them further. In fact, today, on February 1st, a team of carpenters, chainsaw operators and workmen left for Ponod with a small number of the Oikos Community to continue the mission. They are going to build 11 simple homes for the families whose homes have been washed out. Currently these families are living on the beach, under tarps or make-shift tents comprised of sticks and boulders. The construction team will stay in Ponod until the 11 homes are built! Our dream is to build homes for all 28 families who have no home.
Here is a video of our immersion to Barangay Ponod:
This is an on-going mission, one we will be working on during the course of this year. If you would like to help us help the families in Barangay Ponod and the surrounding villages, you can make a donation by clicking here.
And please pray for us as we do the work we were called to do!! Thank you so very much for your support and prayers!! May the Good Lord bless you!!!