INC starts series of relief distribution and medical mission in areas hit by “Yolanda”

ORMOC City — The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) recently began its series of relief distribution and medical mission to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, starting in the city of Ormoc and in Carigara town, near Tacloban City, Leyte.

As of Saturday, Nov. 16, some 50,000 individuals have been given relief packs complete with three kilos of rice each, canned goods, noodles and bottled water in the combined relief distribution and medical mission in the areas reached by the INC mission.

Volunteer doctors and nurses also gave free medical consultation and free medicine. All these efforts were done under the Lingap sa Mamamayan project (Aid for Humanity) in cooperation with the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc., the INC’s charitable arm.

INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo directed the immediate delivery of food and medical service in the hardest-hit areas of the super-typhoon to give comfort and hope to the survivors, most of whom had been suffering from the lack of basic necessities since Yolanda struck last week.

The INC chapel in Ormoc City and in Carigara, Leyte served as the center of the relief efforts and medical mission on Nov. 14 and 16, respectively.

“This is just the start,” said minister Glicerio B. Santos, Jr., the INC’s general auditor. “There will be simultaneous relief distribution and medical missions in 13 other sites in the affected areas in the Visayas on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Other relief distribution and medical missions will also be held this week by the INC in the areas severely hit by the “Yolanda,” said Dr. Sergie Santos of the FYM Foundation, Inc.

They are also preparing a big relief distribution and medical mission in Tacloban City.

Ormoc City was the first stop of the INC’s Lingap sa Mamamayan that started around noon of Nov. 14 until around 5 p.m., just before the worship service in the evening. Some 30,000 relief packs were distributed that day.

Two days later, on Saturday, Nov. 16, another round of relief distribution and medical mission was held in the town of Carigara that served at least 30,000 more people from several barangays coming from as far as Alang-alang, San Miguel, Jaro, Palo and Tacloban City.

Volunteer doctors and nurses gave free medical check-up and medicine, including anti-tetanus vaccines.

Typhoon survivors who came to get relief and medical aid in Ormoc City and in Carigara, Leyte said that this was the first time that a medical mission combined with massive relief distribution reached the place since “Yolanda” struck the province with powerful winds that knocked down the roofs and broke walls of concrete structures.

“We cannot buy medicine anywhere. All the drugstores are closed,” said Marissa Eston, 31, who came to Carigara, all the way from San Miguel town in Leyte, to get medical treatment and food aid. Her right foot had been hit by a galvanized iron sheet that fell from their house’s roof.

“I tried to save the rice bag we had in the kitchen when the winds howled and part of the roof in the kitchen caved in,” Marissa said.

Jasim Alvarez, 12, had two puncture wounds in his right foot. He was treated by the doctors and given a shot of anti-tetanus toxoid, as a preventive measure.

The people who came had different stories to tell about how they survived typhoon Yolanda’s wrath.

Susan Villarante came to the relief distribution center in Carigara all the way from Tacloban City. She came with her two sons. Her youngest son is studying in Manila. They survived “Yolanda” when her family sought refuge in the INC’s worship building in Tacloban City. She recalled how one of her sons had to plod through the mud and the streets where lifeless bodies of typhoon victims were all around, after Yolanda’s fury subsided.

The INC district minister in Tacloban, Nicanor Bernardo, said they had called on to the people in the area to evacuate their homes days before the typhoon struck. The night before that, they again urged people to enter the INC’s chapel. One of those they were able to persuade was Susan and her family.

Bernardo said there were people, many of whom were non-INC members, from three of the barangays in Tacloban City who came to seek refuge in the INC’s worship building. All of those inside the INC building survived the strong winds and storm surge that had killed many people in Tacloban City alone.

Some of these survivors from Tacloban City travelled to Carigara when they learned of the relief distribution in the area. Relief goods, they said, were hard to come by although they have heard in the news of help pledged for the survivors of Typhoon “Yolanda”.

Most of the people who sought medical attention last Thursday and Saturday had respiratory tract infections such as severe coughs and colds as they had been exposed to the elements since “Yolanda” destroyed their homes. People also suffered from lacerations that they got from yeros or galvanized iron sheets, and puncture wounds from iron nails. They were all given tetanus toxoid by the doctors. Some were also given leptospirosis medicine.

Many people also suffered from gastroenteritis due to contaminated food and water.

“People were telling us, ‘Thank God we’re still alive’,” said Dr. Florencia Munsayac who were among the volunteer doctors and nurses from Metro Manila who participated in the medical mission. The other volunteers came from Cebu City.

Thankfully, the INC worship buildings in Ormoc City and Carigara where the relief distribution and medical mission was held, withstood the super-typhoon’s bashing.

The next INC medical mission and relief distribution is set to be held in areas severely damaged in northern Cebu, in Palawan and in other areas in the Visayan region where Yolanda made landfall.