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Supplies rushed to families in Tacloban, Philippines

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Aroy
Jenelyn Cabugawan, her son Jero and their family are sheltering at Redemptorist Church in Tacloban, Philippines. The Cabugawans have received a hygiene kit that gives them the chance to keep clean and free of illness.

By Marissa Aroy

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 16 November 2013 – A disaster like Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda claims its victims in two phases. The first is during the event, itself, with its winds of up to 313 km/hr and its flooding, a burst dam of debris rampaging through the streets, lifting entire homes – and people – away.

The second phase, the aftermath, is longer, protracted – searching for family, and where to get water, and where to get food, and how to get medicine, and where to sleep – the needs are pressing, and the unknown is all encompassing.


Jenelyn Cabugawan, her son Jero and their family are sheltering at Redemptorist Church in Tacloban, Philippines. The Cabugawans have received a hygiene kit that gives them the chance to keep clean and free of illness. 

Given the dire situation of so many Philippine families – compounded by an uncleared airport runway, road blockages, day-long traffic jams – organizations like UNICEF and its partners have been eager to enter the city of Tacloban and begin the road to its recovery.

Families in need of support

Assessments show an estimated 11.5 million people in need of support in 36 provinces. Some 544,600 people continue to be displaced, with about 70 per cent in 1,215 evacuation centres and the rest in host communities or makeshift shelters such as schools.

Redemptorist Church, off the main street in Tacloban, is the evacuation centre where Jenelyn Cabugawan, 27, her husband, and their 7-year-old and 1-year-old children now shelter. The Cabugawan family come from San Jose, near the water.

“When the rescue team came, we didn't hesitate – we just came with them,” Ms. Cabugawan says. “We didn't even have a chance to bring clothes here.” She worries for her younger child, Jero. He’s got a rash that needs to be looked at, and he’s had diarrhoea. “They gave him medicine to help stop the diarrhoea, but still – he’s gotten thinner.”


The kits the families have received include water purification tablets, bars of soap, wash and laundry soap, toothbrushes, sanitary pads and a malong (a tube-like garment). 

Supplies arrive in Tacloban

The kits the families have received include water purification tablets, bars of soap, wash and laundry soap, toothbrushes, sanitary pads and a malong (a tube-like garment).© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Aroy

On Friday 15 November, the runways were cleared by the airport, and the C1-30s, large military cargo planes, started to arrive. Supplies of all types from such sources as individuals, church groups and large humanitarian organizations started to pour in.

Three hundred hygiene kits from UNICEF were distributed to families in the Tacloban area on Friday, with more distributions planned. Redemptorist Church was one of the main locations for the distribution. Partner organization Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) handled the distribution of the blue buckets filled with hygiene products.

Water and hygiene is a challenge for people living in crowded places, especially when sanitation facilities are unable to keep up with the usage. The hygiene kit contains water purification tablets, bars of soap, wash and laundry soap, toothbrushes, sanitary pads and a malong (a tube-like garment).

For the Cabugawan family, it means having a chance to keep clean and free of illness. “All we want is to find a safe place for us to go and start over,” says Ms. Cabugawan.

She walks off to find a pot where they can cook some of the relief rice they have received.

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