Operation Blessing Helps Philippine Flood Victims

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MINDINAO, Philippines -- This summer, flash floods in the southern Philippines left hundreds of families homeless.
    
This disaster came amidst the ongoing war between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels that has forced thousands more into evacuation centers.

CBN's Operation Blessing has been helping alleviate the suffering of many of those families - both Christian and Muslim.

Under Water

For three weeks this summer, many towns in the southern Philippines were submerged in floodwaters, with more than 3,000 residents losing their homes.

Felix Alcala was going 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."

Food Shortage, Violence

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.

Along with the houses, the middle part of the bridge was also swept away by surging floodwaters.

But on top of this natural disaster, the people here have no choice but to live with serious problems such as kidnappings, bombings and attacks of Muslim rebels.

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 her 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 like Kalim 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 explained. "The people are economically depressed and they are dependent on the NGO's for their food."

Operation Blessing Sows Peace, Hope

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

Noraisa is happy she had her baby examined by an Operation Blessing volunteer doctor.

She is also thankful for the rice, beans and canned goods the ministry gave away to refugees, because she can now feed her children.  

Felix Alcala is thankful for the medicines that will help his children fight infection and fever. However, he said what touched him more was the prayer of the counselor for him.

"I felt joy and a sense of hope when the counselor prayed for me," Alcala 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 Pastor 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," Mercado 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 said.

Related Link:

Operation Blessing

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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