Typhoon Yolanda – Stories of Restoration!

Typhoon Haiyan Update

During the immediate aftermath  of  Typhoon Yolanda our team spent many hours visiting the evacuation centres in Cebu City. Survivors who where identified as the most vulnerable had been evacuated by plane several days after the typhoon. It was mainly families who had members that had been seriously injured during the typhoon, had disabilities, elderly, newborns and pregnant mothers.

The evacuation centre, as others have mentioned in previous blogs were not sanitary or properly equipped to look after families with children and sickness. On the surface they looked okay. A large Gymnasium, the government social workers had set up a small area with medical supplies that was supposed to be the clinic. There was an area for the social workers and an area where donated goods were kept. Local NGO’s and other local groups had a rota for bringing in meals, all paid for out of their own pockets. And lots of locals came in and out all day with donations for the victims. Each family had an assigned area on the basketball court to sleep and eat in. They had basic sleeping mat and blankets, some had thin foam to sleep on. Everyone had to share just a few toilets between them and there was not enough water for washing clothes.

Over the weeks of visiting the evacuation centre the feeling staring to turn from a temporary place of hope to a waiting pen. Families stuck in limbo not knowing where they should go next and becoming more and more reliant on the hand outs.

On one of our visits we were told about a young woman who had just been discharged from hospital and was in the evacuation centre. I found her on a sleeping mat, her families assigned area was just by the Gym toilets. I could see instantly that she was in some serious pain! Her boyfriend explained her story to me.

Before the typhoon Estrellita was in her first year of collage studying Hotel and Restaurant Management. She had a lot of plans and goals ahead of her. But then the night of the Typhoon came. They had been told it would be a big one so they had evacuated from their home and were sheltering in a cement building thinking they would be safe from the strong winds but the walls of the building collapsed and trapped Estrellita. They pulled her from the rubble but her back was badly injured. She had no feeling from the waist down. Three days after the storm as aid agencies started to arrive on the ground she was evacuated to Cebu on a  military plane so she could receive proper medical care. Her boyfriend, mother and brother came with her.

In the local government hospital she had a major surgery on her spine to try and repair the damage done. Her operation was considered successful and after a week in hospital they were so overcrowded that they decided to discharge her to the evacuation centre. That is where we met her.

From being on the cement floor she had developed stage 4 bed sores. The wound from her operation was not healing as it should and she still had no feeling or movement in her legs. She had a catheter in and she was very depressed. Her family had not been taught by the nurses at the hospital how to look after Estrellitas wounds or how to move her to prevent bed sores.

As soon as I saw her my first thought was ‘She should still be in hospital!’ A no brainer right? So that is what we decided to do! I didn’t ask the social workers for permission, I just told them that she should not be where she was and that I would move her. The social worker said to me that as long as I didn’t expect any financial help from them then she agreed with my decision…classic!

Within 10 minutes I had a ambulance there to pick her up and bring her to Chung Hua hospital, the best private one in town!

Through friends we were directed to approach a Orthopaedic spinal Surgeon called Doctor Morales. The hospital staff were amazing with Estrellita, they very quickly got her comfortable and Doctor Morales began looking at what she needed. Estrellitas whole family were just relived to have her in safe hands.

In the end Estrallita was in hospital for another 3 weeks. She had a surgery to remove the dead skin from her bed sore, she had a team of 4 doctors working with her for different needs. The Doctor told her that her bed sores were about a day or two away from turning gangrenous and without treatment they would have been fatal.

So how is she now six weeks after we first met her? She has been living at Spring Village, we initially had a full-time nurse from Helping Hands here looking after her. But now her family members have been trained how to care for her. A nurse comes to visit her once a week and she has regular check-ups with her Doctor. She has also started Physiotherapy and has feeling and movement back in her waist and legs until just below the knee. She has a tiny bit of feeling in one foot but no movement yet. But the Doctor thinks she will likely make a full recover. It will not be fast but we can see her getting stronger every day. Estrellita wants to get back to school, her family has lost everything, their home was destroyed but we will keep walking this journey with them step-by-step as they move into restoration.

Me and Estrallita yesterday!

One more amazing miracle, when we went to pay the hospital bill for Estrellita we had been told it would be about £2,500. In the billing office the office assistant pulled up the records and told us the bill had been wiped clean! The Doctors had got together and pulled a few strings…amazing!!

2 Responses to “Typhoon Yolanda – Stories of Restoration!”
  1. Jill says:

    Fabulous story…well done guys.

  2. Venda Wilkie says:

    EXCELLENT news Emily, it is so lovely to see her upright and smiling!! I will forward this info throught to the Clarkson Primary School kids!! Keep up the fantastic work!!

Leave A Comment