Residents join efforts to clean up their hometown
Heavy rains caused serious flooding in Davao City in the Philippines, leaving piles of debris behind and covering roads with mud. After assessing the disaster situation, local Tzu Chi volunteers started a cash-for-work relief programme on 4th September in the barangay of Talomo. Over 500 people joined the programme, which paid each participant 1000 pesos a day.
On the following day, more than 800 people turned up to join the clean-up efforts. The local government provided them with heavy construction machinery to assist with their efforts. Among those who operated the machinery was a resident who had received Tzu Chi’s rice in 2018, and he felt very happy to have the opportunity to give of himself to help his fellow countrymen.
Each holding a shovel in their hands, the residents worked hard to clear away the mud on the streets. As truckloads of mud and debris were transported out of the city, the streets were gradually restored to their former conditions.
Before the activity came to an end, Tzu Chi volunteers led everyone through the song, “Prayer”. Many of the residents were moved to tears as they sang the song with a soothing and comforting melody. Then, the volunteers distributed the cash aid to them one by one with well-wishes.
A city restored
On the third day of the programme, as most of the major streets had been cleared, there were only a group of 87 residents working with the help of heavy machinery to clean up the small alleys. Children could be seen playing along the clean streets and the provision shops had reopened—these were signs that the residents’ lives had returned to normalcy.
A resident bought some building materials to make a new door for his house after receiving the 1000 pesos from Tzu Chi. “I no longer feel upset about my door being swept away by the flood,” he said happily.
Tzu Chi volunteers also bought some gravel to pave the muddy road surfaces. At around 4pm, the gravel was delivered by four trucks, and the residents worked together to pave the roads with the crushed stones.
Seeing how his hometown had been cleaned up after the flood disaster, the local district head expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Tzu Chi. The volunteers took the opportunity to share about the Foundation’s philosophy and missions with him and encouraged him to join their ranks. Shortly after that, he put on a Tzu Chi vest as he was very happy to be able to serve as a volunteer.
Another resident, Jesus Rodriguez, took out a hundred pesos from a plastic bag to donate to Tzu Chi to help others in need.
Visiting a hard-hit village to plan for flood relief
After the work relief programme ended, Tzu Chi volunteers travelled to a village in Talomo to assess the disaster situation there. The village is situated by a river, and all the houses along the riverbanks have been hit by the flood. A total of 50 homes are totally ruined while over a 100 sustain partial damage. The residents who lost their homes are temporarily staying with their friends or relatives, and they have received food supplies, blankets and straw mats from the government.
As the houses had all been inundated by floodwater, the belongings of the residents have been destroyed, and there are piles of debris and trash strewn along the riverside. Among the affected residents is a pregnant woman who has a daughter with her husband. Their house has been swept away by the flood and four stilts are all that is left of the house. There is another lady whose family lived in the same house with her brother’s family, and all that is left of the house, home to nine people, are six stilts.
The Tzu Chi volunteers deeply feel for the suffering of the villagers. They will find out the total number of people who have lost their homes and that of those whose homes are damaged, as well as the needs of the school-going children, in order to plan for disaster relief to help the villagers tide over the difficult time.