Implementing A New Future

Trip Start Aug 07, 2012
Trip End Feb 07, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I hope this blog will allow all who reads it to understand what life is like in Cangumbang and how building an evacuation center will alter the future of the entire community. The following excerpts are from a recent insert that was placed in my hometown church's bulletin. Holy Angels Church has decided, after my presentations a few weeks ago, to make the Evacuation Center Project in Cangumbang a Parish Project; rightly naming the project Holy Angels Ark for Cangumbang. This step in my fundraising efforts is by far the most exciting, I feel blessed to have such an amazing parish community in support of my work. I still want to invite anyone who would like to get involved in the project to do so, however, because this project is about people coming together to help a community that doesn't have the ability to ask for help. Every bit helps and every person has the ability to contribute something to help Cangumbang survive the next flood.

"The people living in the rural Filipino village of Cangumbang experience many overlapping factors that lead to an extreme disadvantage for their families. Most adults in the area work on the rice plantations around their homes. Wages for this type of work are very low and hours are extremely irregular, which contributes to the poverty in the area. The community has very low sanitation and high amounts of disease due to improper bathroom facilities and garbage disposal. Families in Cangumbang do not have access to most medical services or social welfare support because they do not have money to pay for transportation to the nearest town let alone enough money to pay for medical bills. Many children in the area are school age but are not able to attend school simply due to financial limitations. Some children lack shoes, while others can't afford shorts or shirts.

The most compromising factor for the children and families who reside in Cangumbang is the floods. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Americans now know more than ever what it is like to experience extreme weather and devastating flooding. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by the storm; thankfully most people were able to escape the wrath of the storm. In Cangumbang people are not given warning by government officials, they do not have any idea what rainstorm will cause a flood and which won’t. Most people don’t have access to telephones let alone televisions or internet. Unfortunately due to their rural, poverty stricken geographical location they are highly ignored. Flooding can last weeks and the government may only come out in boats to rescue members of the community after an entire week has passed.

Although the monetary loss may be less for this community when you compare it to a community recently hit by Superstorm Sandy, we must keep in mind a few things. These people do not have a vehicle, a pantry with of food, electricity, a closet full of clothes, plumbing, or televisions. All of these luxuries we may sometimes take for granted are not lost in the storm, instead they lose their only cooking pot, their second pair of clothes, the one and only pillow they own, a child’s only toy, or the roof which they have no money to replace. During severe flooding, which is bound to affect the community at least a few times a year, the storms take its’ toll on people’s health. Grandparents fall ill, children catch diseases, and parents may be injured while attempting to save their families. Those injured do not receive immediate attention and some of them never see a doctor because they simply cannot afford the medicine. The community loses at least one person every flood, even during a small 2 foot high flood while I was there in November resulted in two deaths (1 child, 1 elderly man)."

"The evacuation center in Cangumbang would give the entire community of around 50 families a place to seek shelter from the floods. It would provide lifeboats to help save stranded individuals and families and bring them to safety. The center would stand at least 10 feet above ground level to finally give the community a chance to truly rise above the floods (the highest recorded flood was between 5 and 6 feet). Disaster relief supplies, such as clothes, food, and flashlights, would be provided to the community during times of flooding. Currently there is no place for these type of supplies to be safely kept, and the people of Cangumbang must attempt to swim approximately 1 mile in order to reach a building tall enough to stand unaffected by the floods. Swimming is extremely dangerous for two main reasons: most Filipinos do not know how to swim or tread water and the water is a toxic mix of human waste, garbage, disease, and debris.

Public restrooms would also be attached to the center and provide year round access to private, sanitary bathroom facilities for the whole community. These bathrooms would also be built high above the ground so that they could be utilized during the flood as well. Proper restrooms would allow the community to increase sanitation and hopefully decrease disease.

You may wonder why these people don’t just move out of the area affected by the floods. I too had the same question when I first learned of the conditions in the area. But what I didn’t understand was the extent of debt that the families constantly live in. Many families have borrowed money from their employers or other sources and are therefore bound to their current situations. Even when parents are able to get slightly ahead floods inevitably strike and bring damage and loss to their homes, again forcing them into greater poverty. Even if a family was able relocate, jobs are not easy to find and land is nearly impossible to find in such an overpopulated country."

If you are interested in donating click the "Support my Travels" button in the upper right to pay via Paypal or credit card. Additionally, donations may now be made by check to "Holy Angels Parish" (write in the memo line Evacuation Center Project) and sent to 402 S. Nottawa, Sturgis, MI 49091.

Thanks so much for your support!

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Suzy on

I thought the same thing with Sandy. So much media coverage and sadness. There is no reason to withhold prayers and sympathy from our situation here, but most people effected are much, much better of than those in this area and this happen multiple times a year! They need our help much more, where the media and well-off neighbors cannot help!

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