The Children's Rights And The Life After Typhoon Yolanda

Photo from the Philippine Star
(internet photo)
November 6, 2013 was indeed memorable to the whole Philippines; the kind of memory that was far behind the good light and was way too painful to be remembered as Typhoon Yolanda (internationally named Typhoon Haiyan) a category 5 Super Typhoon hit the Philippines, particularly affected Tacloban City, Leyte. It devastated over 14 million people and 41% of it were children.

More than 1 million homes were destroyed during the typhoon; 50 to 90% of the overall reported damage were health facilities and approximately 90% of schools and building have been impaired. The country mourned for all the people who died, families who got broken, and children who have been left behind. Some families were not able to be found, some of their members found dead and other were still reportedly harmed during the devastation.

The Philippine Government, its agencies, non-government organizations and even international agencies and groups sent their help to the country. None of the event occurred during the hit of Typhoon Yolanda has ever been forgotten. It left a mark especially to the children of Tacloban. The once call for survival had led them to something else thereafter. Striving for survival was and still an understatement.

Tacloban children have experienced extreme risks during, and even more, after the hit of the typhoon - death, illness, injury (leading to disability), separation from families, interruption of education, increase in child labor, among other things. Thus, this also include other child protection issues.

In accordance, specific risks have been identified. Children have experienced a reduce, if not total remotion, in access to adequate nutrition and health treatment. Making it worse is their separation from their parents and families which brought them into depression; as well as disruption to education in the middle of the school year. These were all the risks that the children have faced and still facing. Moreover, they are recovering, moving on, and exploring another path in life - little by little, brick by brick.

Their rights for survival, development, participation and most importantly, protection, were the ones that the government and private agencies concerned put into a priority. Thus, included rebuilding their homes, restoring electricity, re-establishing schools and giving out psycho-social assistance and other psychological help and support to children who have been traumatized by the disaster.

As a review, Presidential Decree No. 603 of the Republic of the Philippines "Child and Youth Welfare" Article 3 states the "Rights of the Child" and here are as follows:

  1. Every child has the right to be born well and must be cared and raised well.
  2. Every child has the right to live with family who loves, cares, and teaches good morals to him/her.
  3. Every child has the right to have a proper care and importance from other people.
  4. Every child has the right to have the basic needs of people such as food, water, shelter, clothing and health care. 
  5. Every child has the right to have everything he/she needs for a better life. 
  6. Every child has the right to be educated. 
  7. Every child has the right to play and enjoy whenever they have the opportunity.
  8. Every child has the right to be protected from abuse of adults.
  9. Every child has the right to live peacefully away from bad influence.
  10. Every child has the right to be cared whenever their parents are not available or cannot sustain their needs. 
  11. Every child has the right to be living in a good government who helps them strengthen their faith and to become a better citizen.
  12. Every child has the right to grow up peacefully and get what they want for the good of their

Right after the tragedy, these rights were getting themselves be reminded. A lot of children's fate had whirlwind leaving them homeless, traumatized, separated from their families and worse, even died. It saddened everyone - the world at the utmost. The silver lining could not be found and the children were left just there at a point they do not even know where to go, how to start again, and have questioned on why shall they give life one more try. It all happened. All at once.

In this regard, local private agencies and international organizations have been generous showcased their full support and empathy. They have convene consultations with children who experienced shocked and trauma - a big pan of help came through. They have shared their kindness and compassion to show support; as well as knowledge and tips on what must be done if and when there will be a forthcoming disaster. Their views, perspective and even personal experience and insights have been mustered to provide necessary counseling and comfort to the children of Tacloban. School supplies and other school needs have come through right next to rebuild the point of education in Tacloban City. A lot of volunteer teachers extended their hands to assist the re-establishment of schools for children to continue what they have started in the year. As these rights have been practiced and still are, the lives of the children continued.

Filipinos are known for its resilience making it a strong race, and it is indeed true. The road to survival for the Filipino children was not easy and it does not stop from there then. To have all their rights exercised will make them feel their belonging in the county as part of a strong yielding and hopeful Republic. All of the help and assistance are not just part of the material and tools constituent but to touch their personal beings as well.

A lot of them have lost things and people they only have, yet the hand extended, efforts exerted, eyes that were able to look through and ears lent to listen gave their lives one more chance. Everyone - agencies, institutions, and individuals - have shown dedication, up until today, in putting back the life of Tacloban and its children as their rights in the society matter more than ever.

The devastation of the typhoon took a huge chunk of everything that these children once had. But now, they are proud to say that they are on a new beginning.

References:
- Typhoon Haiyan diary: Mud and ruin in Tacloban
- Children orphaned by typhoon 'Yolanda' struggle with trauma a year on
- Thin Lei Win; Thomson Reuters Foundation



This article has been submitted to University of California - Berkeley (BerkelyX) Journalism for Social Change course as a final requirement. Originally written and updated by Shainne Hostalero.

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