Opportunities Amidst Typhoons and a Pandemic

As if the COVID-19 pandemic was not difficult enough to cope with, the Bicol region was hit with three consecutive typhoons in three weeks last month. First, Typhoon Quinta brought so much rainfall that Legazpi recorded its worst flooding in fourteen years, and floodwaters crept inside our Tiwala office. Then Super Typhoon Rolly, the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in 2020 to date, brought catastrophic winds and torrential rains. Typhoon Ulysses followed shortly, and we experienced heavy rainfall for eighteen hours. 

These typhoons left extensive damage in the Bicol Region. The violent winds toppled electric posts and mobile phone towers. Rivers overflowed and low-lying areas got flooded. Volcanic mudflows from Mount Mayon buried at least 300 houses in the town of Guinobatan. The needs to provide relief and help were indeed great, and so we were presented with new opportunities to serve others:

Typhoon Relief Efforts

Many thanks to our partner church, United Evangelical Church of Malabon, for quickly sending 900 packs of food to help those severely affected by the typhoons. We distributed the emergency food packages to families in the towns of Tiwi, Malinao, Camalig, Guinobatan, and the islands of Cagraray and San Miguel. The recipients were all very grateful to receive the timely aid. 

We also received monetary donations towards our relief efforts. Through these contributions, we were able to extend help in the rebuilding of homes of several families in San Miguel Island and assist in the renovations at the Victory Village Elementary School. 

Aside from all these acts of generosity from Tiwala’s ministry partners, we were able to witness how our beneficiaries themselves were willing to share their own time and resources to help out. When we announced that we needed volunteers to assist us in packing the relief goods, several Tiwala mothers readily went and helped us. One of the Tiwala mothers who sell facemasks and face shields for a living even donated several pieces of her merchandise to extend aid to those families affected by the said calamities.

Ministry of Meetings

Tiwala is also a partner to different government agencies. Last month this included attending virtual coordination meetings with the Department of Education. Situation reports and resource sharing during meetings were crucial to ensure that the learning continuity of children.

On November 27, Tiwala was invited too by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as a witness to the destruction of Php288M worth of dangerous drugs. As mandated by Republic Act 9165, a representative from a non-government organization must be present as a witness in the said event. Attending the said event was an expression of our commitment to helping build safer communities for children.

We also recently attended the annual report meeting hosted by the city mayor of Legazpi City. As an accredited civil society organization under the local government of Legazpi, we participate in the consultation processes involved in the planning and implementing of city projects. Attending such gatherings helps us gain insights into the city’s priorities and represent the families and communities we serve. 

Virtual Celebrations

Because of the decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in our city, we are now allowed to visit the Tiwala children in their homes and follow them up on how they are doing. They just successfully finished their Tiwala modules entitled “Wow, God!”. We also continued to roll out our educational tablets to aid the children in their distance learning classes. However, face-to-face sessions with children are still not allowed, and so we resorted to doing Facebook live sessions every Friday to encourage and share God’s Word with them. 

The restrictions did not hinder us from celebrating two special occasions last month – World Children’s Day on November 20 and Araw ng Pagbasa (Day of Reading) on November 27. We hosted virtual storytelling events on the said dates and distributed school supplies to our 179 students.

We also had a virtual Christmas party for all the Tiwala children on December 16. We prepared gifts and food for each of them and sent mobile load so that they could all join us during our online Christmas event on facebook. It’s a different way of celebrating the Christmas season, but we’re thankful we were able to spread Christmas cheer to them. 

Meanwhile, we resumed our family strengthening sessions last month, with the parents observing health protocols during meetings. They were very eager to attend as soon as the sessions resumed, and there was heartfelt sharing about how they’re doing and what the Lord has been teaching them. We’re blessed to hear how their faith continues to grow even through the challenges they’re experiencing from the pandemic and recent typhoons. 

Thank you very much for continuing to support us in our mission of building strong foundations in the lives of the children and families here in Bicol, Philippines. Your prayers, encouragements, and donations enable us to portray God’s love to them. Maraming, maraming salamat. May the Lord bless you and your loved ones with His reassuring presence this Christmas season. And may He fill your hearts with love, peace, and hope for the New Year.

Tiwala Kids & Communities Team