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Typhoon Haiyan: Raphael, 11, tells his story

Raphael, 11, who is living with his family outside an evacuation centre in Tacloban
Raphael, 11, who is living with his family outside an evacuation centre in Tacloban

“At first the rain was not that strong, then it started getting stronger. The rain kept getting stronger. We gathered our things. Then the roof started ripping off. When the roof totally came off, we fled. Rocks started to fall on us.

Rising waters

“The water was rising and we clung to a rock. Something hit my father’s head. I tried waking him up but the blood was all over. I tried pulling him but he was too heavy, so I had to leave him. I just swam through, holding on to a banana trunk…”

Rafael is just 11, but he is now the man of the house. Spotting the potential of an abandoned ruined car, he built their family a new shelter with wood and bits of debris. His mother Leonida, a gentle woman in her forties, relies on him but worries about his health, and the health of all her children.

A mother speaks

“We don’t have a home,” she says. “We don’t have any source of income, to help my family live. What now? How will they eat? We haven’t eaten anything for the past two days, and now my child has diarrhoea. We get food from anywhere we can find it – I think this is why my kids get ill. We are eating anything at all, just to fill our stomachs.

“We are eating spoiled rice. Even if we cook it, it stills smells off. This is also why we get sick. I have no medicine for my children, so if they are sick I try to rub their tummies.”

Save the Children is on the ground in Tacloban and in other affected areas across the Philippines, and we’re distributing essential supplies to families like Leonida’s as fast as we can. But there are tens of thousands more still living in evacuation centres and hastily built shelters.

 Children are hungry; babies are sick

Everywhere I turn, babies are coughing. Children are hungry and sick from eating rotten food. Families are desperate. They are also grieving: for family members killed by the typhoon, for homes lovingly built over years, and for their former lives – irretrievably lost.

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