In August, I traveled from the UK to Tacloban in Philippines. Last year, on November 7th, one of the strongest storms ever recorded pummeled through the Philippines. Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) flattened part of the country killing at least 6340 and with at least 1061 still missing 9 months on. Tacloban bore the brunt of the storm as it faced winds of about 170mph.
My reason for traveling to this area was to work with the charity All Hands who have been working tirelessly to help the survivors living in Tacloban. In the city, 90% of buildings were destroyed so much of the work of this charity has been to build housing for the homeless. When I left the UK, I didn’t know what to expect this city to be like as the media was no longer reporting about it and the guide books were outdated. On arrival in Tacloban city, I took a motorised tricycle from the airport to the charity base. The driver took us past tent city, an area where thousands of people are still living in tents and have been for the last 9 months. I had prepared myself for the devastation caused by Yolanda yet I still found this site shocking.
During my stay in Tacloban, I was involved in construction, demolition and needs assessments. I found the experience very insightful into the lives of the local residents. I was hugely inspired by their cheery, happy-go-lucky approach to life despite living in disaster zone. I also gained a valuable insight into international disaster management and met influential figures in large aid organisations. I have been very interested by how these organisations work before, during and after disasters and would like to pursue this interest and work for an NGO in the future. My current course at university is product design. I would really like to look into how design can be used in a disaster situation.
I am very grateful for the funding which I was given to support my trip. It has been an incredible experience for me and I hope that as a result of the trip I am able to pursue a related career in international aid.