The local volunteers belonging to the newly-trained and newly-organized Disaster Response Networks (DRNs) have finally managed to deliver relief goods to 278 families in hard-to-reach Barangay Siha, in the Municipality of Borongan, Eastern Samar. In order to transport their cargo of rice-cooking kettles and foodstuffs to the remote barangay, the team risked their lives by fording the Lo-om river, which was swollen by heavy rains. In spite of the danger, they were determined to bring aid to cut-off Barangay Siha, whose residents had suffered greatly from hunger in the 13 days since the rage of Hagupit.
Field Operations chief Kriz Cruzado describes the team’s high-stakes river crossing:
19 December 2014 Update from Borongan, Eastern Samar
A few members of the team, including me, were not able to get past the strong current of Lo-om river. The non-stop rain has caused the river to overflow, making it almost impossible for everyone to cross the river going to the center of Barangay Siha where the relief operation will take place. One group led by Bennette has managed to cross the river while the current was not very strong. The other team, which I led, facilitated the transfer of goods to the other side of the river on foot. But by the time the last few boxes were being transported, the water suddenly rose up, like there was a flash flood, preventing me and my team to cross the river. The good thing is that all the goods were already transported and that we are safe. We will try to cross the river again.
My team has finally managed to cross the river at 1430H today. Going in for the first time, crossing an overflowing river with a very strong current, is one of the scariest experiences I have; going out is another. But, being able to cross the river back and forth is definitely one of my happiest and fulfilling moments! My team was able to help in distributing porridge in a pot for 278 families. The whole operation ended at 1730H and everyone was able to convene near the river to cross to the other side, but by the time we got there, the water was already very high, so we got stranded for an hour, and finally some locals assisted us to cross. Now, at 2100H, the team is taking supper before we all head back to Tacloban where we will rest and have debriefing the following day.
We at PBCI praise God for preserving the lives of our staff and PAR-DRN teams in the field, even as they risk all to relieve people in desperate need.
We also earnestly thank the donors who have already given to PBCI either directly or through Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Central Committee, and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. Your support has made our relief operations in the field possible and has allowed us assemble relief packages for those left hungry and desperate by Typhoon Ruby.
The residents of Barangay Siha are very grateful that you gave.
As we continue to bring relief to isolated villages, we will remain dependent on God’s grace and on the continued prayer and financial support of our friends across the country and around the world.