“Flood rescue operations is now a crucial ministry of our church to our neighborhood and even to our municipality,” said Pastor Paul Villamor, a survivor of super-typhoon Haiyan and one of the organizers of a local disaster response network being facilitated by PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI). “Because of the disasters we’ve been experiencing, we are now becoming more sensitive to what the Creator says about the Divine Creation… In fact, caring for God’s creation is now becoming a part of our discipleship ministry and biblical teaching,” adds Pastor Paul.
Pastor Paul is a graduate of the Peace and Reconciliation—Disaster Response Network (PAR-DRN) Leadership Training which PBCI is facilitating in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee and the Mennonite Church Canada.
Our goal is to train 50 pastors and Christian leaders like Paul Villamor who would train four (4) more volunteers each. Each PAR-DRN graduate would form a PAR-DRN Team in their respective communities to work hand-in-hand with other community-based organization leaders and local government leaders.
Here are our major activities as we seek to reach our goal:
- May 6 – 9, 2014. Twelve (12) pastors coming from Dulag, Leyte and from Lawaan-Guiuan Areas, Samar finished the Peace and Reconciliation – Disaster Response Network (PAR-DRN) Leadership Training.
- May 13 – 16, 2014. Twenty-two (22) pastors coming from Ormoc-Kananga Areas in Leyte Province, and from Lawaan Municipality in Samar Province finished the PAR-DRN Leadership Training.
- June 9, 2014. Twenty-four (24) pastors of South Eastern Samar Disaster Response Network (SES DRN) attended the vision casting meeting which was held at the Christ the Living Stone Fellowship in Giporlos, Eastern Samar.
- June 11, 2014. The Ormoc Evangelical Disaster Response Network (OEDRN) has finally enlisted their committee members. This is the pilot PAR-DRN in the whole of Haiyan-affected areas.
- June 12, 2014. Fifteen (15) coconut farmers attended the Coffee For Peace Orientation held at Pastor Vincent Olaer’s residence in Baybay, Leyte. This is part of a post-disaster long-term livelihood exploration, an off-shoot of PAR-DRN.
- June 13, 2014. Six (6) key leaders and pastors from Basey, Sta. Rita and Marabut attended the exploratory meeting held in Open Door Baptist Church in Basey, Samar. The meeting was to explore the possibility of organizing a disaster response network in their own ministerial association.
- June 16, 2014. Thirty-five (35) pastors attended the first re-echo of the 3 re-echo sessions on Psychological First-Aid, and PAR-DRN Training. Pastor Jun Magsalay, being the main facilitator, conducted circle process, introduced the guidelines in conducting psychological first-aid and introduced the concept of Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CBDRRM). The activity was held at FREE Bible Christian Fellowship Church in Barangay Liloan, Leyte.
The past three years have been tragic among communities in the Philippines that were hit by deadly typhoons and flooding. In December 2011, tropical storm Washi unleashed floods that killed 1,080 people in Northern Mindanao. Twelve months later, in December 2012, there were 1,900 people who were left dead or missing by typhoon Bopha in Southeastern Mindanao.
Then in November 2013, super-typhoon Haiyan hit the Visayas Islands leaving at least 6,340 confirmed dead and 1,061 missing according to a running government tally. Most of these deaths were caused by drowning. Human remains are still being recovered from under the rubble even after six months.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms kill hundreds of people across the Philippines every year.
Photo Credit: Sherel Quider, PBCI Administrative Assistant, Haiyan Project