OB Gives Philippines Residents Sense of Hope

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MINDINAO, Philippines - This summer, flash floods in the southern Philippines have left hundreds of families homeless, while an ongoing war between the government and Muslim rebels has forced thousands more into evacuation centers. 

As the turmoil continues, Operation Blessing has stepped in to help residents recover.

For three weeks, towns were submerged in floodwaters.  More than 3,000 residents lost their homes.
 
Felix Alcala went through the debris of his house, gathering materials he could use to build a new one.

In the meantime, he and his family of 13 children are staying in a makeshift tent beside the road. 

"Now that we lost our house, it's really a big problem because my children don't have a place to sleep," Alcala said.  "And because they are exposed to the changing weather, they become sick with fever and cough."

Another problem is a shortage of food. The floods destroyed not only the crops, but also the roads and bridges used to transport the products.

On top of the natural disaster, the people have no choice but to live with serious problems like kidnappings, bombings and attacks.

In addition to the natural calamities, manmade disasters like the armed conflict between Muslim rebels and government troops add to the suffering.

Noraisa Kalim still mourns the death of his younger brother who was killed when Muslim rebels attacked their village a year ago. 

'It's been more than a year, but I still can't accept the death of my brother." Kalim said.  "We cannot go back to our village because it is not safe and they already destroyed our house. Our life has become miserable."

The fighting has displaced thousands of residents who now live in congested evacuation centers.

Unson Demaguil is Muslim and the town's municipal secretary.

"The people here have nothing to go back to because their houses have been burned," Demaguil said.  "The people are economically depressed and they are dependent on the NGO's for their food."

Operation Blessing visited the different evacuation centers to provide medical assistance and distribute food and other relief.

Kalim is happy she had her baby examined by an OB volunteer doctor.  She said she is also thankful for the rice, beans and canned goods the ministry gives away to refugees because she can now feed her children.  

Alcala is glad for the medicines that will help his children fight infection and fever, but he says what touched him more was the prayer for him.

"I felt joy and a sense of hope when the counselor prayed for me," he said.  "Most of us have forgotten about God and maybe that is why we got the flood. It's a reminder for us to turn back to God."

Operation Blessing's Albino Mercado Jr. believes that the disaster relief efforts sow peace and hope to the region.

"This is our way of showing the Muslims that we Christians care for them," the pastor said.  "We share the love of Jesus to them."

"Operation Blessing, they are Christian and we welcome them and we are optimistic that it will build a stronger relationship between the Christian and the Muslim," Demaguil proclaimed.

*Original Broadcast Date: August, 14, 2009.

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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