IN PHOTOS: How the church is helping families affected by Mayon Volcano
MANILA, Philippines — A month after the start of the continuous restiveness of Mayon Volcano in Albay, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) organized "Simbahan Para sa Mayon 2018" to help people affected of Mayon volcanic's activity.
In line with this, a local church in Guinobatan, Albay organized a soup kitchen program which aimed to feed around 200 affected families in the area.
The parish has also mobilized its social arm to different evacuation centers every other day to aid the needs of increasing number of evacuees around the Mayon volcano.
According to Rev. Father Diogenes Barja, the church tries to help those in need by providing food and support, especially to the children.
"Hindi naman masyado malaki yung budget, parang halimbawa ay bulalo, gulay, tapos sinasamahan namin ng kanin instead of bread kapag tanghalian. Kasi ang mga bata kapag nagsama-sama, maglalaro yan, tapos magugutom yan," said Barja, the church's priest.
(Our budget is not too big. We provide soup, vegetables and we add rice instead of bread during lunch. The kids, whey they are together, they would often play. Then they get hungry. )
Fr. Bajar also sees the situation as an opportunity for them to preach about the spirit of generosity.
"Kasi ang principle namin, after ng calamity na ito, nabigyan ng opportunities na tumulong ang mga tao. Pangit naman yung may kakayahan na tumulong tapos hindi tumutulong," he added.
(After this calamity, our principle is to provide opportunities for people to help others. It wouldn't look good if you have the capacity to help, but do not extend any help.)
Executive Director of the Diocese of Legazpi’s Social Action Center Fr. Rex Paul Arjona also said that many parishes have opened their doors to vulnerable evacuees. They initiated a community-based rehab program for substance users called "Harong Paglaom".
"The SAC Legazpi and partners have been distributing food and non-food items (sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, and hygiene kits) to practically all evacuation centers. Among our targets is that all evacuee households have bedding kits," Fr, Ajona added.
The church is also in close coordination with the local and provincial governments to address the needs of those affected by Mayon. As of February 5, Mayon volcano continued to pose a high risk, despite its seeming calmness the past days, according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Evacuation centers are occupied by at least 19,520 families, or 75,325 individuals, from 3 cities and 6 municipalities in Albay: Legazpi, Ligao, Tabaco, Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo, Bacacay and Malilipot.
"If the evacuation situation continues on its second month, there may be gaps in government food distribution. So food and hygiene kits will still be most welcome. Also toys and learning materials for kids, and volunteers who could do psycho-social work with evacuees," Arjona said, adding that they are preparing contribution for building additional emergency shelters, latrines, and bathing spaces.
Below are some photos during their activities:
On February 2, the Office of Civil Defense and local disaster officials asked residents living outside the 8-kilometer danger area to return home to avoid outbreaks of diseases. (READ: Mayon victims sent home to prevent outnreaks in evacuation camps)
The eruption of Mayon, the country's most active volcano, has affected the cities of Legazpi, Ligao, and Tabaco and the municipalities of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto Domingo, Bacacay and Malilipot. — Rappler.com