In 2014-2015 I was working in a recovery program in the Philippines, after super-typhoon Haiyan visited the area – the strongest storm ever recorded.
I was acting as a field-advisor to tackle the specific needs of people with disabilities within the destroyed area. Every disaster comes with injuries; in a collapsing health system these injuries easily lead to long-term and extensive consequences. Additionally, when disaster strikes, people with disabilities are often left behind in the hectic of evacuation or emergency kit delivery.
During major disaster, human kind falls back to survival of the fittest. People with disabilities often can’t reach the existing aid workers – and the aid workers don’t reach them either. Isolation from both emergency preparation and response is a failure of the human rights of an already vulnerable population.
Almost a year after the disastrous typhoon I flew into Manila to carry out my mission – after the initial briefings I moved on to Tacloban and Roxas, where I would supervise 2 teams of local physiotherapists and other aid workers for the next few months.
During my mission, the area was again hit by a huge typhoon, named Hagupit. Being confronted with the aftermath of natural disaster is overwhelming, no matter how much you’ve seen. But to be part of the imminent destruction approaching within a few days’ time, was a total different experience. To ride out the storm, not knowing what’s still to come and then, when it’s all over, to get out there not knowing what you’re about to encounter, was an intensive situation.