|UMCOR Staff Ciony Eduarte and volunteers prepare to distribute blankets and mats.|
Cold winds of December nights give us chills and excitement on the coming Christmas day. But on the 22 night of December while UMCOR staff responds to the disaster brought about by Sendong (Washi), a different kind of ‘chill’ melted our hearts. While the rain was pouring in the middle of the night, survivors take their shelter in makeshift tents, under bridges and overpasses and park shelters. The streets of Cagayan De Oro are filled with survivors sleeping wherever they can find a little warmth and shelter. Their situation moved us to distribute blankets and mats in the wee hours of that dark and rainy day.
The disaster in southern Mindanao brought us to a deeper reflection on how we can celebrate Christmas in the middle of despair. Contrary to a commercialized and festive celebration, the story of Jesus’ birth shows us death of many children because of the desire of a leader to stay in power and a pregnant Mary without a place to stay in the night and to give birth. Just like the story of the first Christmas, the entire Filipino people and the world are grieving with the high number of deaths in Cagayan De Oro and Iligan City. And, like Mary, survivors will spend their Christmas in the makeshift homes in the streets.
Like the angels announcing hope for humankind, we can give hope to our people in southern Mindanao. Let us continue praying for them and let us do our share to help them in their situation. UMCOR will continue to BE THERE AND BE HOPE.
Ciony Eduarte is the manager of the UMCOR Philippines office in Manilla.