Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thank You For Your Support to the CDO Relief Mission

Thanks to generous people, Rosa Mystica Health Mission now mans a permanent clinic in Balulang, one of the hard-hit areas in Cagayan de Oro City.  The free clinic serves patients thrice weekly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9:00AM until 12:00 noon.  Below are a few shots of the mission:
Welcome to Balulang!  This is the entrance to our mission village.

A mission volunteer from General Santos City poses atop a crushed car in the village.
A portion of the ditch where many smashed cars were found after the flood.
Survivors camped out on makeshift tents because their houses were smashed and washed out by tons of raging water.

The mission relief effort was directed by Rev. Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer, assisted by Rev. Fr. Alexander Hora.  He directed the initial ocular survey of the devastated areas and the eventual choice of the beneficiary village for the mission.  He organized the relief team from Davao SSPX mission area, and brought with him 3 volunteers and 2 cars filled with relief goods and tools for clean-up, disinfection and reconstruction. 
Rev. Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer gives a blessing to a pregnant survivor.
Happy volunteers at work
The Apostles of Mary from General Santos City organized a drive for collection of relief goods and cash donations for the typhoon relief.  Working with ACIM-Asia, they sang carols in their immediate neighborhoods in exchange for cash/relief goods.  Upon the word of Rev. Fr. Tim Pfeiffer, the AoM members joined the relief team in Cagayan de Oro.  Their first work was to clear mud from the basketball court in order to make way for the mission base: clinic, stockroom, relief goods distribution center, catechism center and chapel.  Their second task was to repack the rice and other food items and to sort out clothes for distribution to individual beneficiaries.  Their third task was to take charge of the actual distribution of the relief goods.  They were assisted by the military personnel in all their tasks.  The total number of persons given relief goods (rice, noodles, biscuits, bottled water, clothes, detergent powder, disinfectant soaps, kitchen wares and shoes) were: 866 persons (363 families).  The number of sacramentals blessed and distributed were:  rosaries – 800; scapulars – 750; Miraculous Medals – 50.  The number of catechism literatures distributed were: catechism booklets - 105; catechism leaflets - 2,300.  Before heading back to Gensan, the boys went to Iponan, in the chapel of St. Joseph, to clear the mud from the driveway, the chapel and the adjacent rooms, and to clean and disinfect it.  When it was ready for use, they brought in all the relief goods and medicines from the temporary headquarters in the basketball court in Balulang.
Swiss volunteer Alexandra Vonlanthen distributes drinking water to survivors.
Bags of food were also distributed.
Survivors chose clothes that they could use.
Volunteers refuelling...

ACIM-Asia in General Santos City organized a free clinic upon the advice of Dr. Jean-Pierre Dickes, who approved the transfer of medicines from Manila to Cagayan de Oro.  Dr. Dickes gave instruction to Mrs. Marie Rosalie Maravilla regarding the medicines and medical supplies for the free clinic.  Dr. Emely Lagare, an ACIM-Asia active member, was to be the physician in charge of the medical mission, but she fell ill on the day of the departure and could not come.  Dr. Fe Nocete, the Director of the German Doctors Foundation, with whom ACIM-Asia got acquainted in the mission preparations last year, was presently on Christmas vacation in Bukidnon, and responded to the call for service, and joined the mission team on December 28.  Some 193 patients were attended that day in the various sections of the medical mission:  medical consultation (125), wound dressing (5), tetanus toxoid vaccination (40), and skin care for various rashes (23).   
Registration of patients for the free clinic
Dr. Francisco Woo, an ACIM-Asia member based in Bukidnon, came to assess the mission work, and met with Dr. Fe Nocete, who was his former student in the medical school.  He also met with Fr. Tim Pfeiffer to whom he expressed his appreciation of the spiritual work being conducted in tandem with the medical mission and promised to pitch in.  He started serving the clinic on Dec. 29, during which he served 37 patients in 3 hours.  He served again on Dec. 30, and saw 14 patients in 2 hours.  He promised to make himself available to the mission work thrice weekly, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 o’clock until 11 o’clock in the mornings.  To this date, the free clinic has been in service for 13 days, with approximately 40 hours clocked in and has served some 480 patients in Barangay Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City.  The clinic is now permanent, with Dr. Francisco Woo and his assistants Pio Jun Babia and Margaret Pandan on service three times a week.

Dr. Francisco Woo explains medical facts to a patient.

A restoration and reconstruction team was also organized by Rev. Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer.  The work was placed under the leadership of Mr. Samson Pangan.  Two teams were involved in the work:  a clean-up crew and a reconstruction crew.  The clean-up crew was made up of 3 male volunteers connected with the St. James Chapel in General Santos City. They were the advance party and cleared up mud and debris from the houses.  The reconstruction crew was made up of hired locals:  a foreman and 4 workers.  They moved in when the way was clear and did the repairs.  At the moment, two houses are already cleaned.  The house in most need of repair is being reconstructed.  The reconstruction crew is still at work.  The clean up work shall be continued by a volunteer, Mr. Basilio Pandan, a faithful from Iponan.

A clean-up volunteer at work. 
One flashflood invaded every home and swallowed everything in muck.  Goodbye every thing...
25 days after the flood... on the 5th round of cleaning, the volunteers from Gensan pitched in...What filth were seen outside the houses were not yet half of what were inside....and the smell, oh the powerful stench......ahh,lung power!!!

The Inside Stories... 
A radio broadcasting station in Cagayan de Oro estimates the number of dead people at about 30,000.  But only the retrieved dead bodies could be officially counted.  So the official count is only one thousand and a couple hundred dead.  The survivors were happy enough to have escaped death, they did  not gripe about their losses. They were smiling and friendly.  As could be expected, some were in a state of shock, but many were simply happy to be alive.

If you want to know what it felt like to be there at the mission, just picture the following incidents:
One came up at the relief distribution area and whispered shyly, "are there free underwears?  I've lost everything.  What I'm wearing now is all that I have.  For 10 days already, I've been trying to make do with what I have!" 

An elderly woman took me aside and asked, "do you still have a free toothbrush to share?  You gave me one, my teenage granddaughter doesn't have one, and she would like very much to ask one, please.  Can you add a toothpaste too?  We never had to beg before, but we have no means to buy anything at all now." 

There was a smiling woman who came over to the clinic one day and in a low voice asked, "Do you have some drinking water please, I've been hours without water and I feel so thirsty.  I'm not at all sick, but I'll be grateful for one glass to drink!"

One man hobbling weakly came over and asked, "are you really giving free medicines?  Two days after wading in the flood for some hours, I could no longer move my legs.  I went to the local hospital and I was given injections.  Then they gave me a prescription for an expensive antibiotic, and it's now 9 days since I was given the prescription.  I have it always in my pocket, but I cannot buy it, it's too expensive.  I lost my little business in the flood so I have no money and no credit!"

And one funny thing:  Where we stayed, clean water was very scarce.  In the few hours that the faucet worked, only mud would come out.  As you can very well guess, taking a shower was impossible.  So?  No shower for 10 days!  Thanks to the makers of wet wipes, we survived, though.  Some days we checked out the facilities of popular fastfood centers if we could at least wash our hair... This is what we discovered:  most Jollibees downtown did not have any toilet. Duh!?  Greenwich had, but it was closed because there was no running water.  Only Macdonald's in front of a university had a regularly clean and really refreshing restroom upstairs. Thanks a lot!

Gensan volunteers:  happy to serve! Children survivors:  happy to be alive!!!

Survivors' Tales

A Miracle!
"On the night of December 16, I felt a strong desire to look for my big miraculous medal and wear it.  When I found it, I was able to sleep.  Sometime past eleven o'clock, I turned on my bed and was jolted awake when my fingers touched cold water.  I jumped out of bed and called on my family to wake up.  I started scooping the floodwater and flushing it down the drain but my family urged me to stop.  Only then did I realize that floodwater was everywhere and rising fast.  We mounted some sturdy chairs on top of a sturdy table, and we perched on the chairs, confident that we would be secure there.  The electricity went off and there was complete darkness. Then the table began to sway...the water was lifting it!  Then we found themselves on the water.. we had to swim to stay afloat!  
 My eight year old brother and his nurse could not swim. I and my aunt could.  We each got a non-swimmer to cling to us as we struggled to swim in the strong and swirling current.   There was nothing to hold on to, and the water was churning us like crazy and it was rising fast, bringing us nearer and nearer to the ceiling. In the darkness, we  could hear the roaring of the water that sounded like the growling of the devil.  Outside we could hear wails and cries of desperate children and adults.  Children’s voices were screaming “Mama!!!” Adults were screaming, “Heeeeelp!!!” It seemed like the water was possessed by the devil, looking for specific people to torment.  We could hear metals crashing against concrete.  It was Armageddon.  It felt like the end of the world!!!   
Then a heavy furniture from outside rammed open the door and more water rushed in, but we were glad because then we finally had something to hold on -  the door!  Without anything to hold on to, we would be swept by the powerful current, and would definitely have gotten our abdomens jutted by the iron grills in our fence.   We kept our hold on the door, but we kept swimming too, in order to keep our weight on the water, and not on the door, which would be ripped off anytime.  The water forced its way through a concrete wall and it broke down with a crash.  It was good that the wall broke down because then the water could just flow out and we would not be drowned inside the house.  We kept swimming for more than 4 hours, praying the Rosary all the while.  Over and over, we repeated the Sorrowful Mysteries in reparation for the sins that offended God.  
At some point, I felt too exhausted to go on, and decided to let go and I whispered to God, "Thy Will be done!"  But instead of going limp and letting go, I felt more strength coming to my hands so I could continue holding on and swimming.  The battle was about 5 hours ... When it was over, we came down to a squishy mud.  When we ventured outside, we realized that we were particularly favored by God.  Across the street, our neighbor’s house and piggery was completely erased. No trace of it was left.  The house to our right was reduced to a dilapidated skeleton.  The concrete fence was gone.  The house behind ours had big holes as big cars smashed open the concrete walls.  There were cars dumped on the canal to the left of our house.  The houses across the canal were all gone.  Then I saw waving in our front fence, brown and green scapulars. They were part of the stock that I had prepared for my apostolate.  I understood that the scapulars protected us.  
Some neighbors who had escaped during the flood and who had ventured back to survey the devastation saw us and they were all amazed.  They were sure that we were all already dead as we were trapped inside our house.  They thought to find dead bodies in our house.  They could not believe their eyes. We were there, totally covered in mud from head to foot but standing upright, breathing, talking, walking!  Incredible! They all agreed that our survival was totally miraculous. "

So many people died, many of them inside their houses.  Some were even found trapped in the ceilings.  They could not get out of their houses.  They probably thought that the water would not reach them if they climbed to the ceiling but the water reached them anyway and they drowned.  There were families whose dead bodies were found embracing each other, all bloated, having drowned together inside their houses.  The pressure in the water was so strong that the doors could not be opened.  There were families who were able to get out of their houses and got into their cars to escape but they drowned as their cars were sucked by the infernal waters and smashed to bridges and houses.  There is a teenage girl in the village who is still in a state of shock until now.  Her whole family had clung together, holding onto each other tightly as they tried to keep afloat.  Unfortunately, she was separated from her family by the sucking force of the water.  She was hurled into the streets where everything was smashing against each other.  In the darkness she managed to grab onto some structure and climbed her way onto higher roofs where she waited for the flood to subside.  When the raging water was gone she ventured home and there found her whole family dead.  She was the lone survivor.  There is a man who committed suicide in an evacuation center, unable to bear the shock.  There is a professor in a university who is still in a hospital, still unable to communicate properly to visitors and relatives after having lost everything:  his wife and children, house and cars.  May hope raise them back to their feet and give them courage to live.  Miserere... Domine.
Protected by Our Lady!
A Carmelite tertiary  was alone in her house when the water rushed in and immediately filled her house, leaving her just a few inches of breathing space from the ceiling.  She was unable to grab any material possession to safety, not even her rosary beads.  But she was lucky to grab on a screen door and there she clung and invoked Our Lady continuously through the Rosary. The water was so strong that most of the furnitures in her house were swept away.  She believed that the screen door she was hanging on to would be pulled off its hinges very soon, and she felt fortunate that she had gone to Confession a week before the flood, so she felt peaceful as she resigned herself to the death that seemed imminent.  But she survived.  And she credits her survival to Our Lady's protection.  On interview last December 28, she said her only problem was how to go to Mass without anything suitable to wear.  She was happy when we showed her the clothes that we brought.  When she had chosen one, she was already content and gladly prepared herself to go to the Carmelite Monastery where she wanted to sing her thanksgiving.
Safe by Our Lady's Intervention!
A taxi driver related the story of a certain pious woman who, when the river suddenly rose 10 times its normal size and furiously sucked houses and cars tossing them in leaping waves, took hold of the statues of Our Lady and other saints and dropped on her knees, faced the rushing river and, together with her family, recited the Rosary over and over.  Their house was spared while the other houses around theirs were sucked.  A volunteer tried to find this family to interview them but she could not.  Survivors already left the area.  Scavengers had taken apart the unguarded remains of houses, and piece by piece, sold as scraps...
Refuge in the Blessed Sacrament!
The woman who looks after the chapel and the room of the priest in Iponan had her own flood story to tell.  She and her husband had not heard of the tragedy that had struck some hours before.  At about 6 am, they heard noise and commotion in the neighborhood.  Before they could inquire, people were already running and water was already everywhere.  They panicked and she ran to the Blessed Sacrament and there knelt down and prayed.  Her husband and his brother tried to transfer heavy furnitures and stocks to higher ground, but they had only a few moments to do it.  Before long, the two men got convinced that they should abandon the chapel and run away to safety but the woman was convinced that they were safer with the Blessed Sacrament and advised that they stay.  The men ventured outside but found the current very strong.  So they came back.  Then the concrete fence on one side of the property fell down with great noise and more water rushed in.  Neighbors on the other side of the fence climb in to join them in their effort to find safety.  They prayed that the other side of the perimeter fence facing the river would not fall or they would be totally devastated.  Fortunately, the water began to level out and very slowly subsided.  They learned later that people who had run to the streets were swept by the current as the street had become a  mad river rushing to the sea.
Children survivors visited the mission daily, eager to learn how to pray the holy Rosary.

To the crowd of survivors, Rev. Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer preached about the devotion to Our Lady.

A survivor asked Fr. Pfeiffer to teach her about the Sacrament of Penance.

Deo gratias!

Let us  pray for the survivors that they may henceforth love God more and avoid sin.
Let us also remember the poor souls who died during the flood.  May they rest in peace.
And let us pray that we may be spared from a sudden and unprepared death.

1 comment:

Vero said...

Maraming salamat para ang article!God bless everybody who helps a lot after this typhoon...
Many stories after this typhoon, terrible stories but also miracles..
God bless you...