20 February 2014

Homecoming after Haiyan

2/20/2014: Around the SOS Children’s Village in Tacloban, the situation was growing worse by the hour. In the streets lay bodies left within wreckage of the storm. Rumors swirled of violence and looting, and authorities were on edge. 

The SOS mothers felt strongly that they had not weathered the storm only to then be in danger from other survivors. As it would be for any parents, their children’s safety was now the most pressing concern.

It was not only the out-of-doors that concerned SOS mothers and staff. The powerful storm had torn roofs and walls from houses. And a nearby river threatened to flood again. 

With these dangers in mind, the mothers and Village Director decided that their best chance for safety would be to evacuate their children. Fortunately, the Tacloban Village had nearby family to take them in, at the SOS Village in Calbayog.

Their reception in the Village was warm. The children underwent stress debriefing and participated in therapeutic activities. Games, music and art helped children relax and work through their traumatic experience.

The days at SOS Village Calbayog were busy and happy ones for the children. Always in the back of their minds, however, was the familiar home they had left behind in Tacloban.

SOS co-workers and some of the Village mothers were working hard in Tacloban to restore their home. There was heavy mud to scrape away, garbage to collect and debris to clear away. There were walls to rebuild, and roofs to construct. They worked hard, and kept a constant eye on the safety of the area, doing everything necessary to ensure it was secure for their children to return.

After weeks, the day finally came. The SOS children were ready for their homecoming. “We were all excited. We were welcomed in Calbayog, but nothing compares to coming home. It’s here we feel the safest. It’s here that we are the happiest,” says Marie, an SOS child from Tacloban.

The Village and the area around it have not recovered fully. Some repairs to the Village houses remain to be made, and there is a great deal of rebuilding to be done in the community. For now, though, our SOS families are content to be in the place they feel the happiest and safest — home.