Red Cross sends in a clown to evacuation centerBy Maricar Cinco, Romulo O. Ponte
Inquirer Southern Luzon
DISASTER relief needs do not always come in small packages.
Volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross came with “surprise” guests—a party clown and a magician—when they visited an evacuation center in Calamba City early this month.
“It was part of our post-trauma activity, specially for the kids in the evacuation center, said Noel Natividad, Red Cross chapter service representative of Social Services and Fund Generation.
He said that even for a brief moment, they wanted to fill in that void felt by evacuees after losing their houses or belongings to the flood.
Natividad said the activity, held on Sept. 11, was a break from the stressful day-to-day routine of 1,569 children who belonged to the 1,391 families that were still staying at the Calamba public market.
The market, a newly constructed two-floor building, was used as an evacuation center since only a few market stalls have been in use. The families shared space in vacant stalls on the ground and second floors.
“The children were surprised. We didn’t expect to see a clown in an evacuation center,” said evacuee Joan de Guzman, 43.
During their visit, Red Cross volunteers served hot meals to the evacuees while the others gathered the children in an open space at the marketplace where the clown and the magician entertained them with tricks.
“There were parlor games and prizes like for those who could name the characters in soap operas or who performed the best dance move,” Natividad said.
De Guzman, a street vendor, said it was not every day that she saw the children in the evacuation center happy since disaster struck them. “They were very happy dancing and participating in the games.”
She said her house, like that of the other evacuees from the lakeshore villages of Linga, Sampiruhan and Palingon, remained flooded since the monsoon deluge in August.
A report from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 58,257 people remained inside 211 evacuation centers in Laguna as of Sept. 19.
“Children are getting sick because of the poor ventilation and because we’re overcrowded,” said De Guzman.
Red Cross plans to replicate the activity in other evacuation sites in the province.
In Los Baños, a fishery research station continues to be flooded, affecting fingerlings dispersal for Calabarzon and Bicol, said Maurita R. Rosana, aquaculturist II of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Fresh Water Fisheries Research Station.
The flood, reaching up to one and one-half meters deep, has caused the fingerlings to be scattered everywhere in their compound, “even intruding into our office quarters.”
Due to the flood the 25 research personnel have been holding office in the second floor rooms which could be accessed by crossing a makeshift wooden bridge from the gate of the compound.
“Since the August flood, the station was able to schedule only a single dispersal due to difficult conditions,” she said.
Rosana said, however, that none of the fishes could escape to the surrounding fields because the entire fishery research area is enclosed in a “circumferential fence and huge net.”