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“Sometimes, you have to fall from the mountain to realize, what you are climbing for.
Obstacles are placed in our way to see if what we want is really worth fighting for.
From every wound there’s a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says:
I was deeply wounded, but I survived because God is with me all this time.
Coz in life, all things will leave you; but God will always be there for you.
All the blessings that we have, despite the calamity that we are facing now. Life must go on.
God always has something for us.
A way for every problem, a light for every shadow, a relief for every sorrow.
May we feel the real essence of Christmas and that is Jesus Christ.
I love you. I love you.”
~Ara, young Sendong survivor
By Jon Carlo D. Fortich, Graphics Design specialist, WV Philippines
The moving piece above was a letter written by young survivor Ara, a few hours before Christmas eve while inside the evacuation center in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro city.
She wrote it on a spare piece of paper, surrounded by hundreds of people now living without homes and only owning sparse pieces of personal belongings. Ara is one of the over 60,000 displaced individuals living in temporary emergency shelters in hard-hit CDO.
Ara’s home was washed away when Tropical Storm “Sendong” (international name: Washi) struck the city in the dark hours of Dec 16, 2011 until the early morning next day.
Ara relates that during the flood, her family including her two siblings, grandmother, and uncle sought high ground on the rooftop of their house. From that view, she was able to witness some of her neighbors and their houses dragged away by the surging waters.
Ara shows the letter that she wrote during their silent Christmas Eve spent with a thousand others who were displaced by Typhoon Sendong. Ara shared her heartfelt letter during World Vision's Child Friendly Space in CDO. For more amazing stories of these young survivors, click here.
Fortunately, Ara’s family was rescued. However, her family’s heart sank when they came back the morning after and found that there house was completely gone.
Ara was reading her letter to her friend when they were attending a Child Friendly Space (CFS) session at evacuation center in Macasandig.
The CFS is a psychosocial intervention facilitated by World Vision for children living in evacuation centers and refugee camp-like conditions. The CFS provides young survivors the opportunity and adequate time and space for them to play, dance, share stories, sing, and do other group-oriented activities aimed toward the rehabilitation of children who are dealing with the disaster.
“I felt very sad and lonely,” Ara said. She needed to cope with the overwhelming sadness she felt on Christmas eve, she needed to express her feelings. In her heart Ara was hurting and by writing the letter, she was able to release those emotions.
Ara shares that her parents are in Manila earning a living as “palamig” (refreshment) vendors. They had taken her youngest sibling with them and left her in the care of her grandmother. They had already contacted them and are keeping touch.
Slowly reading her letter aloud, each word rolling softly, Ara released what she might have kept for days after the flood. The words drowned out the noise surrounding the cramped shelter as she read from the heart.
Asked to whom she wrote it for, “I wrote it for the people, I want them to know that when we have everything, we don’t remember the Lord; we had to lose everything for us to remember him.”
Ara explains that she wanted to tell people to be thankful for the blessings they received and the people who love them. That we must not wait until we lose what’s precious in our lives before we acknowledge its importance.
As the first half of CFS session ends, she and her friends prepare for their next activity to play group games.
Looking around, in the face of great loss, Ara held her letter as though it was the most important thing in the world. To her it more than just a letter, it was hope.
For more stories of hope from these young survivors, click here.
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