CAMARINES NORTE, Philippines – Thousands are now homeless after a strong typhoon ravaged remote towns in the Eastern Philippines. Despite the threat of COVID-19, Operation Blessing's Disaster Response team reached out to Filipinos bearing the brunt of Typhoon Vongfong.
Maribell Varas was overwhelmed by her husband's death after he perished tragically trying to save the family as the typhoon hit.
Her husband was afraid the roof of the shelter where they evacuated would collapse because of the very strong winds. He broke the window so they could jump out. But broken glass cut an artery in his arm that caused him to bleed to death.
Maribell said people tried to help but it was too late. Now, she worries about their future.
"I lost my husband, our house, and now I don't know how I could work to support our five children. I need to take care of them, especially my 2-month-old baby," she said.
Nine-year-old Angel Gaza says she was afraid of the powerful winds but remained strong for her younger sisters. She said she comforted her sisters who were crying because they were frightened of the powerful winds.
Their father left them at the temporary shelter while he tried to save their house during the storm. Taking care of her younger siblings is a familiar experience for young Angel. Abandoned by their mother, she's had to fill that role while their father worked in another town.
"I take care of my siblings. I bathe them. I cook for them so we will not go hungry," Angel told CBN News.
Angel's father, Rolan Gaza, who would normally be gone for a week said he didn't have a choice but to leave his children in Angel's care.
Rolan explained, "I don't have a choice because I have to find work to earn money to buy food. Now we have more problems because our house was destroyed by the typhoon."
The Operation Blessing Response team observed strict quarantine protocols to secure passage through various checkpoints as they traveled to the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Vongfong. Not even the threat of contracting COVID-19 could stop the team from bringing much-needed assistance to suffering typhoon victims.
The team distributed food packs containing rice, canned goods, coffee and other supplies to more than 1,200 families affected by the typhoon.
Maribell Varas was among them. Her face brightened after she received her food pack and prayer.
Varas thanked the Operation Blessing team. She said, "Your help means a lot to us. I hope you can continue to reach more people in need."
Along with some chocolates that Angel enjoyed, the family also received a food pack from Operation Blessing. The team's pastor counseled her father and prayed for him.
Operation Blessing Philippines says it will rebuild homes for both Maribell and Angel. The OB Staff was touched when Angel expressed her gratitude with her heartfelt prayer:
"Papa Jesus, I will take care of my siblings, I will feed them. I will study well. Help us. Thank you so much, Papa Jesus."