by Loren Hyatt
I met Ritchelyn earlier this year during a trip to the Philippines, where I had the opportunity to visit several of LWR’s emergency operations projects. Ritchelyn was a shy mother of six who welcomed me into her home to tell me her story of survival and recovery.
In December 2011, Tropical Storm Washi swept across the Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that led to flooding and landslides. In total, the storm resulted in nearly 1,300 deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands people, including Ritchelyn and her family.
When Washi hit, Ritchelyn was pregnant with her sixth child. As rains fell and floodwaters rose around her home in Carmen barangay (village), she knew that she had to act quickly if she and her family were to survive the storm. Ritchelyn and her five children fled to safety while her husband stayed behind to try to salvage their belongings.
Ritchelyn, her husband and her children survived the storm, but the rushing floodwaters left them without a home.
Now, through the generosity of people like you, and along with support from the ELCA and other donors, Ritchelyn is rebuilding her family’s life. In January 2012, she moved into transitional housing in a new community developed together with one of LWR’s partners, Habitat for Humanity-Philippines, in an area less prone to natural disasters.
The community, called Xavier Ecoville, has electricity and plumbing, a church, a center that provides job training and play space for children.
In the coming weeks, families will be able to move from their temporary homes into nearly 570 newly constructed cement houses, which were built through support of LWR and other humanitarian organizations.
In addition to moving into these houses, some families in Xavier Ecoville participated in their construction. A number of Xavier Ecoville’s residents are helping others affected by Washi, earning an income to support their families and learning marketable skills by helping to construct additional houses for disaster-affected families.
Ritchelyn told me that she was so thankful and excited for her new home that she named her baby after her new community: Eco Xavier! She has also already grown plants to place in front of her new home once she moves in.
This Mother’s Day, I ask that you pray for Ritchelyn and mothers around the world who overcome disasters and fight for their families’ survival and recovery every day.
And, in honor of your own mother, please consider giving your mother a gift from LWR Gifts. When you purchase LWR Gifts, you’re helping a mother unwrap a better life.