Destruction and hope after Haiyan
None of us had a clear idea of what to do with our lives, but who cares. We met by chance in Palawan and since the first moment we knew we were together on this, we were a team of people dreaming together. We were all boiling with energy, passion and ideas. We wanted to change the world or at least a piece of it. We were lonely travellers looking for a cause, and we found each other, and Yolanda.
Yolanda has been the deadliest typhoon in the history of the Philippines, thousands of deaths, people displaced, it left so much destruction behind.
One of the affected villages was Batug, one hour south from Tacloban. Thankfully, no one died in this village but most of the houses were destroyed. (READ: Building back better)
Our idea was to restructure one of the affected communities in a sustainable way, inspired by a close relationship with nature. Sustainability wasn't invented in these last years, these people knew it even before. We just wanted to help them remember how to go back to the roots, to show that there is a way to work with nature and not against it, to find a holistic solution to integrate food, shelter, waste, education and community. All this under the Earth Village Project, an idea started by a mixed community of Filipino and international volunteers based in Palawan and acting in the surrounding communities of Dulag, Leyte. We did not have an organization or anyone supporting us. All we had was ourselves and our motivation to help.
We had nothing but, without expecting anything, we got everything: tents, tools, even a truck. Most of all, we had a group of motivated and capable people ready to follow us and support us, not because we asked for help, but because they believed in us.
The mission ahead was much more complicated when we arrived at the field. We had no idea of people could suffer and survive something like this - to lose everything you had, your loved ones, all your belongings, and still have the power to smile and look forward. Yolanda left behind nothing but destruction and hope.
How can you expect to create a better life after a catastrophe that took away the little you had? How can you dream of a better life when until now your only dream was how to get the next meal? It wasn’t our knowledge, our hands or our money that could help them, it was just our love and the total trust in a common belief that the opportunity is greater than the problem. (Read: PH vows to build back better 100 days post-Haiyan)
Soon, more and more people believed in it.
We managed to involve the famous architect Mike Reynolds, protagonist of the award-winning documentary Garbage Warrior. He will be coming with a team of more than 30 people to build a windship, a sort of anti typhoon bunker that will also create a common space for the community to improve their livelihood. The team is now building the base camp to host the team from US.
The difficulties are endless, like finding funds and building the basecamp in bad weather, but the passion and commitment of the team is absolute, and no matter how difficult the situation is, they will keep moving forward to fulfill their dream.
Emptiness is the only stage where anything can grow. We wanted to share with the community a whole redefinition of the society, not from what we need to achieve but what we need to believe. What are our common goals as a community? What is it that we really need? What is it that makes us really happy?
None of us knows exactly what the solution is. We don't even know when or how it will happen, but it will happen. It is already happening. We have no obstacles, just an empty clear horizon full of hope. Nothing has more power than a team of people moved by ideas, values and beliefs. Nothing is greater than a community that has nothing to lose, and everything to win. - Rappler.com
Carlos Quiles is a freelance photographer and filmmaker working in Southeast Asia. His works have appeared in the New York Times, RTL television (Germany), ABC news Australia and Al Jazeera.