“At last, I was home”

December 5, 2013

by Ron Orcajada , Water Program Manager

Filipino Ron Orcajada shares what it’s like to return to his typhoon-ravaged country and help manage Samaritan’s Purse’s emergency water, health, and hygiene program.

Jetlag.  It’s inevitable.   I arrived at our Cebu hotel in the Philippines tired, but wide awake.   But at last, I was home. A Filipino is always a Filipino, even after over 36 years in Canada. 

This is the second time I’ve been home to the Philippines in the past year.  Both times, I have been part of a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). And both times, I’ve learned quickly that flexibility is a big part of being a DART member.

Case in point:  I went to sleep thinking I was heading to our work on the island of Bantayan, where Samaritan’s Purse is providing emergency food, water, hygiene kits, and more. Over breakfast, I learned that instead, I was catching the 9 a.m. flight to Tacloban.

Tacloban, a city of about 220,000 people, faced the fury of winds blowing 350 kilometers per hour, as well as a 12 meter storm surge. The city was wiped out. It’s a picture of utter devastation.

In Tacloban, I attended one of our daily Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) meetings. I’ll be helping coordinate Samaritan’s Purse’s provision of safe, clean water to people in need. Over the course of the day, I gained a good picture of what we’ve accomplished since the typhoon hit, what we’d like to happen, and how we can move forward in caring for typhoon survivors.

That night, I got three hours sleep before beginning another day, which would be spent installing a chlorinator in a village called Magsaysay.

Magsaysay has more than 750 residents, and they need clean water. Most of their homes, livelihoods, and water sources were decimated by the storm. As they rebuild, we are offering support in the form of a water tank, generator, pump, chlorinator, and tap stand. The village captain, Mr. Gregoria, is a caring and well-educated leader. He knows the chlorinator will help keep his people healthy as they recover and wait for the next harvest. 

After four hours, we finally got the chlorinated water ready to go. Before leaving, I gave a brief hygiene message and some instructions on how to collect and safely store the water they’ll get from the new system. We closed with a prayer for the village.

The kids in the picture above are enjoying themselves as safe drinking water gushes from their new water system. It’s a good feeling to know Samaritan’s Purse is providing for such critical needs here in the Philippines.

And we couldn’t do it without the support of Good Samaritans like you. Thank you. It was a good day out in the field.