Typhoon Yolanda leaves children Orphaned
by FFE PH News staff
Young Nica Cabutin survived the worst of super typhoon Yolanda when it hit Visayas on 8 November 13. However, her life after the devastating calamity may just be as difficult since she has lost her father, mother and siblings in the storm surge.
Nica’s house was, in her own words, ‘brought away by the sea.’ She was found clutching at debris afterward, and has since been at the care of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children. Carmela Bastes, the centre’s director, said ‘She tells us she’s in first grade and we also estimate she’s eight.’
Staffs from the centre have managed to trace the girl’s family to the Alimasag neighbourhood in Tacloban City. Survivors who knew the family told officials that the girl’s parents and siblings have not yet been seen since that fateful Friday.
Nica is just one of the first orphaned children to be placed under government care after the typhoon. Tacloban City social welfare department director Liliosa Baltazar added that they expect more.
She said ‘We can’t say at this point how many there will be. We expect the local officials of the (Tacloban) districts will turn over orphaned children to us. Right now they are attending to the needs of their own families.’
Save the Children in the Philippines member April Sumaylo meanwhile said that around three million children have been affected by the typhoon. ‘We have talked to children who have lost their parents’, she explained.
‘We have seen some children who said they are the ones scavenging for food and water. It’s obviously very distressing for them.’
Two local orphanage homes have been wrecked by the super typhoon. Officials said both centres have already been evacuated.
Orphaned children are seen as the most vulnerable survivors after the calamity. Without the protection of their family or a guardian, orphans will be threatened by malnutrition, kidnapping, abduction and trafficking. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already called for vigilance among aid workers about the danger that orphans face.
Meanwhile, Bastes said that Nica has since adjusted to life in the centre. She added that perhaps the girl has not yet fully understood the consequences of her fate. Once the city’s welfare services are restored, Nica and other orphaned children like her will eventually be put up for adoption. Bastes said ‘We have to place them with a family.
‘They can’t be in this institution forever.’