Written by Pia L. Camagay, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines

GUINOBATAN, ALBAY – In a small corner of one of the rooms in Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF) Extension in Guinobatan, 30-year old father Louie Orlain was fanning his 11-month old daughter Jamaica Orlain, who was sleeping soundly on a small banig (handwoven mat).

This was the situation of most of the evacuees at the BUCAF Extension; they only had cartons and/or banigs (handwoven mats) to sleep on. Rain has been pouring down constantly in Albay and the cemented floors of the classrooms-turned-evacuation rooms can get extremely cold and uncomfortable, especially at night.

Louie fans Jamaica by their small space at the evacuation center

Jamaica was having her afternoon nap and Louie was trying to make her sleep as comfortable as possible. She was, after all, his first and only child. He and his wife Rosaline, 23 years old, would take turns in doing chores and taking care of baby Jamaica.

Before Mayon erupted, Louie was a laborer at a coconut plantation in Dona Tumasa, the village where they also lived. This was his only source of income, but it provided him with enough money to support his family’s daily needs. After the eruptions, Louie found himself jobless. The police blocked the roads going to the coconut plantation because it was located within the 8-km danger zone.

As a father, Louie feels frustrated that he cannot provide his family’s needs. He shares, “Minsan nakakahiya man, gawa nang nag-hingi na lang siya sa nanay niya” (Sometimes it’s embarrassing because my wife would ask her mother for money instead). Rosaline’s mother lives in Montalban, Rizal, and would just send money to Albay when they need it.

Louie and Rosaline brought most of their things to the evacuation center for fear of the dangers of the ash fall.

There are several things that cause Louie to worry: First, he worries about the house they left behind in Dona Tumasa. A thick layer of ash covers their property. They just recently had the house repaired and Louie fears that the ashes might cause their roof to rot. They would have to shell out money once again if repairs are needed.

Second, he worries about his family’s health. Because of the ashes and the living conditions at the evacuation center, people have been prone to cough and colds. Jamaica has been coughing since the eruptions started.

Third, Louie also worries about Jamaica’s upcoming birthday on March 12th. Mayon is still showing signs of activity, which means there is no telling when the evacuees could go back to their normal lives. Louie wants to throw his daughter a good 1st birthday party at home, but under the circumstances, it seems that the Orlains would have to do a makeshift celebration at the evacuation center instead.

Operation Blessing Philippines provided relief packs, food items, hygiene kits, and psychosocial support to affected people in Albay.

“Sana makauwi na kami doon para makapag-trabaho naman” (I hope we can go home so we can work again), shares Louie, who seems really eager to go back to work.

Operation Blessing wants to help out more people like Louie. A lot of family heads in Albay lost their livelihood because of the eruptions. Alert Level 4 is still raised over Mayon, which means that a lot of people cannot yet go back to work. It will take some time before they can get income once again.

Today, we are celebrating all kinds of love all around the world! Why not show how much you care by sending your love to the affected families in Albay through your donations? DONATE NOW.

If you want to learn more about giving to Disaster Response Mayon, kindly go to http://www.staging2.obphil.com/home/give-through-banks/ or call us at +632 477-7802 to 06.