During the last week of September 2009, Typhoon Ondoy blasted the Philippines with the worst rainfall ever recorded in the area. Some parts recorded water levels more than 20 feet high, leading to mudslides and widespread loss of life and homes. Many of CFCAís families, both sponsored and staff, were affected.
CFCA responded by sending monies set aside for emergencies from our Disaster Assistance Fund. Because typhoons are so common, the Philippines projects also set aside funds in their budget for calamities.
The staff assessed the situations of the different families and put them in one of three groups: families who were homeless; families whose homes were still standing, but damaged, and whose belongings were gone; and those who had recovered some of their belongings. The families received food, clothing, medicine, housing materials and livelihood replacement funds, according to their needs.
After the water receded and rebuilding began, Paul Pearce, director of International Programs, visited the projects and was given a surprise and heartwarming gift. Four youth in the Manila/Antipolo projects created a massive and beautiful thank-you card that was meant to send appreciation to CFCA for all of the support they received. Signed by roughly 200 people, it represents the families who were helped by CFCA special funds.
The card, done in the Japanese style of anime, depicts scenes from the flood such as brown water with debris floating in it, people salvaging things from their homes, and children in their school uniforms with their pants hiked up so as not to get their uniform dirty.
ìWhen I saw it, I knew I had to take it back to the office,î Paul said.
However, the card was too large to fit in any luggage or backpack. So, Paul decided to carry the card during the 8,000-mile journey. He wondered just how he would get through airport security with this oddity, but found people to be not only curious, but genuinely grateful to CFCA once they heard what the card was for.
ìWhen I reached the airport in Manila, at every security checkpoint the guards wanted to look at it and talk about it,î Paul said. ìWhen I was walking by shops in the airport, one of the shopkeepers told me that her house had flooded as well.î
Once in Japan the security guards were impressed with the artwork of the card. Flight attendants and fellow passengers were accommodating to Paul and his giant card.
ìInstead of being a hassle, it became a badge of honor,î Paul said. ìIt is a reminder of the special grace the Filipinos have. That in the middle of this disaster, they have the thoughtfulness to come together to make this thank-you card. They never stop amazing me by their resiliency and how they respond to hardships. Itís pretty humbling.î
The card arrived at CFCA headquarters unscathed and is on display.