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“Our house was tied to a tree so it won’t be swept away by floods,” a little girl said in Filipino.
“When the water rose, my uncles and I were able to swim to escape. The floodwater was up to my neck. We swam very far that I lost energy,” she continued.
“I just kept thinking I had to swim.”
This girl is just 9 years old. Her name is Samsia.
Samsia is among the 471,051 children affected by Typhoon Vinta (Tembin).
Not the first time
This is not the first time Samsia left home.
She was first forced to leave home when fighting between government forces and a local armed group erupted in Marawi City.
“We were scared,” Samsia said. “I was scared because I thought our house was going to be bombed. My friends aren’t here with me. (READ: A young girl survives Vinta)
“Before we evacuated, I was just selling tempura like it was a normal day,” she added.
One of Samsia’s brothers was taken as a hostage. “He died there in Marawi city. They [armed group] forced him to steal rice. He didn’t want to do it so they shot him and he died.”
“I cried when we received news that he died. We all did. Someone was able to get his body and he was buried. I was close to him,” she shared.
Samsia got separated from her mother during her escape from the city. She then started living with her uncles and other siblings in a neighboring community in Lanao Del Norte. (READ: Losing my home twice)
In October 23, 2017, the fighting in Marawi officially ended. The city was left in ruins, yet some families started returning home in hopes of reclaiming their lives and their hometown.
“I learned that the fighting stopped in Marawi. I don’t want to go back there anymore,” she admitted. “My mom is not there anyway.”
“We went to Iligan and that’s where I got separated from my mom. We tried to find her but my siblings haven’t been successful,” Samsia explained.
“I feel we can find her. My brother went to Manila and I think we will be able to find her. I can feel she is safe and is okay.”
Yet another evacuation
After leaving Marawi, Samsia has been doing well at her new school.
Now in second grade, Samsia is determined to continue her education. She loves to write and wants to be a teacher someday “because young children need to learn, they need teachers.” (READ: Lost my school to the Marawi Crisis, then to Vinta)
“She’s already 9 years old but she is still in Grade 2,” said Jahannie, Samsia’s new teacher. “This is because she didn’t have the chance to be in school before in Marawi. She was selling tempura.”
Everything was going well with Samsia’s new life. However, before 2017 ended, Samsia had to evacuate yet again.
Typhoon Vinta hit their community hard, leaving behind a trail of flattened homes and thick mud. Samsia swam with her uncles to safety. After a long swim, they moved to their nipa hut on the foot of the mountains.
“Our house was toppled over. My notebooks were swept away,” she said. “During the typhoon, I thought I was going to die. The typhoon was very strong.”
Despite what has happened, Samsia continue living her life. She wants to do her best in school and in finding her mother.
One wouldn’t think that this young girl survived two different crises separated by only a few months.
Rebuild after Vinta
On December 22, 2017, Vinta made landfall in Davao Oriental in the Southern Philippines.
Though not exceedingly powerful, Typhoon Vinta caused widespread flooding, flash floods, and landslides. As of 12 January 2018, a total of 7,405 families or 36,615 individuals are being served inside 53 evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, 4,470 families or 22,464 individuals are staying with families or friends outside evacuation centers.
A total of 164 persons were reported dead, while 176 were reported missing. Most of these were reported in the hardest-hit provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte.
Many houses, especially those made of light materials, were either damaged or completely swept away.
Education remains a top priority as many schools were damaged. School supplies, equipment, records, and other learning materials were submerged in water.
There are also reports of children showing signs of distress after the typhoon.
Save the Children Philippines deployed its emergency response team to Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Our team is working with local partners and government agencies in assessing the damages in the schools and the situation of families.
We have begun distributing Back-to-School Kits and setting up Temporary Learning Spaces among affected schools so that children may continue their education.
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