Addressing children's needs during relief efforts

Philippines

December 5, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    While urgent needs must be met, children also need support to deal with their memories of the terrifying storm and sadness over what they’ve lost. The UN estimates that six million children have been affected by the disaster across the country. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Over 15,000 homes in Palo were destroyed, forcing families to find refuge in makeshift tents or crowded evacuation centers — some of which have now closed due to the damage they sustained. Children need a safe place to go while their parents start to rebuild. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps and our partner opened two child-friendly spaces in Palo, where kids can regain a sense of normalcy with activities and informal education until they can return to school. Over 130 children between 3 and 14 years old visited the opening day. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Francine, 10, attended the first session of activities for kids. “The storm was very scary and now I hate the wind and the rain. I get scared a lot when there are lots of dark clouds in the sky," she told us. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Staff and local volunteers organize games, sports and counseling that help children cope with the trauma they’ve experienced. Sessions are held six days a week. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    “I am glad to come here and play games. I lost all my toys in the typhoon and we don’t have anywhere we can play because the streets and houses are all gone,” said 11-year-old Danica. Her family’s house was demolished in the storm. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Milton Pedrosa, with five-year-old daughter Aryan Mae, said, “I am happy that there is somewhere my daughter can go that is safe. I am a pedicab driver so I can’t be home all the time, and my wife has to go stand in line for food distributions. For the children it is hard to be in the evacuation center all day without activities.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Over 2,000 people are living in evacuation centers where food, water and supplies are scarce — not to mention the thousands more living outside. We distributed 1,000 food kits to area residents. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Each food kit contains rice, canned goods and instant noodles — enough to feed a family of five for up to five days. We'll be distributing more food and opening more child-friendly spaces in the coming days. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Flor Tugedo, 21, received a food kit for her family, who live at an evacuation center. “We need shelter, food, water and clothes. We need everything,” she explained. “Thank you for this help. Now my family can eat tonight.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Breath Kae, 4, was with her mother, Karen, when she received their food kit. Her family currently lives under a plastic tarp where their home used to be. “I am so thankful that people have come from around the world to help us,” Karen said. “It is a gift to the Filipino people that so many people care about us.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Earlier this week, our team traveled east to Palo, in Leyte province, to deliver food, cooking supplies and hygiene kits to families struggling to recover after Typhoon Haiyan. Palo took a direct hit from the devastating storm (known locally as Yolanda) and nearly all of its 62,000 residents have been affected.

The trip also marked the launch of an integrated program to address the protection and wellbeing of children in the aftermath of this disaster. In the photos above, see the new safe spaces where kids can play while we help their parents meet their basic needs.

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