By Laura K. Wise

Laura Wise is a member of Holman UMC and is a mission intern for the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church serving as a peace advocate associate with Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace) on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.

It has been eight months since Typhoon Pablo hit southern Mindanao, the most deadly typhoon to hit the region yet.

Having been in the Philippines during the storm, the stories of the thousands of Filipinos affected hit close to home.  Eight months later, I wondered about the survivors of this calamity. Are they back on their feet? Are their homes repaired? Are they back to work?

In the beginning of July, I had the opportunity spend two weeks in Compostela Valley (ComVal) with banana plantation workers affected by the storm.

After visiting three different communities in ComVal, it was clear that a large segment of the population had not recovered from the destruction of the storm. The host families that I stayed with are unemployed because of destroyed banana plantations. Those who are working are under-employed due to the number of people in their household. Many that I met still need repairs done on their homes, while others lost their homes completely.

In my short two weeks in ComVal, I observed several issues that are affecting the current condition of the people living in the impacted areas.

1. Lack of food

When the storm hit on December 4, 2012, it devastated communities. Having never experienced anything of this magnitude in the past, residents told me that Pablo took them by surprise. In only four hours, the storm completely changed their lives.

Many were stranded in their homes and in their neighborhoods which are primarily located in rural communities. This left little access to acquiring food. In one particular community, those I spoke to, depend solely on food and monthly relief packs provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which they hadn’t received in two months.

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