John is a 15-year old boy. His hands are deformed and, because of the spasms, he cannot hold anything in them.
Jansen is five. He spent most of his days lying in bed because it is difficult for him to sit upright.
Hannah Mae is 11. She weighs nine kilos and lives in a two-room house with a thin sheet of metal as roof.
They are just three of the children who have battled the typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on this day last year. What sets them apart, though, is that they did so amidst their debilitating physical condition: cerebral palsy.
John has lost his house, which is nearby a beach in Tacloban. Along with it is his family’s income that had been necessary for his medical care.
Jansen was placed at the door of their fridge together with his two brothers as waters rushed into their home. His mother had to hold onto it while clinging onto the wall of an outhouse. Eventually, the waters subsided, leaving Jansen greatly traumatized.
Hannah Mae, on the other hand, was faced with the stress of the disaster helplessly. She wasn’t able to move around even as winds smashed through their windows and ripped of their sheet metal roofs.
It is really necessary for the Philippines to work on its disaster risk reduction for people with disabilities (PWDs) now. It is lying astride the typhoon belt, in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and in between the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates. Not doing so can worsen the plight of the estimated 10 million PWDs in that country who, as a conference on disaster risk reduction in Cagayan De Oro two years ago concluded, “…are more vulnerable to disasters than others.”
“Decisions and policies to reduce disaster risks must reflect the needs of persons living with disabilities.” ~United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News and Public Affairs
Photos by Maud Bellon & Molly Feltner of Handicap International