“Always be ready for anything, you never know what will happen to you.”
Clutching a Padre Pio prayer book, young Philippine mother-of-two Hilda Marchadesch shares these words of advice from her hospital bed, gritting her teeth with the pain and holding back tears.
Her leg is fractured in several places, her limbs bruised and slashed. But the real suffering is for her daughter, Angela, 7, left with a hole in her head after the impact of Typhoon Haiyan.
Hilda describes how concrete building blocks fell on her and her son Ashwin, 15, while daughter Angela had the back of her head slashed open by metal window grills that took flight in the storm’s violent winds.
“Our home was destroyed by the wind,” says Hilda. “My boy and I were trapped with the winds and my leg was broken but Angela kept going. She then began to crawl [out of the house] with blood pouring down her ears.”
Their new temporary home is one the biggest hospitals, the Vicente Sotto Memorial, in the city of Cebu. It is currently caring for more than 1,000 patients, many with serious head injuries and broken limbs.
While Cebu was more or less unaffected by the Nov 8 typhoon, which has left a humanitarian disaster in its trail, the city has become a logistics and aid hub, and a transfer point for the injured.
Some patients were airlifted in recent days from the destroyed city of Tacloban, like Hilda and her children, while others hail from Madridejos, north of Cebu, and further afield from Samar, an island further east.
“We didn’t expect such strong winds, that’s why we stayed,” adds 38-year-old Hilda.
In another floor of the hospital, Angela lies broken, her frail hands clasped together. Her concerned brother waves a yellow fan over his sister’s shaven head and swollen eyes, bruised and purple from the excess internal bleeding in her girl’s head and after weekend surgery.
Pain is etched in her brow, as she lies motionless with her strained eyes open staring at the ceiling fan in the oppressive humidity. Dressed in beautiful pink silk, her head wound is wrapped in bandages, with a mini hose siphoning out excessive bleeding from her skull into a small plastic collector.
Irish aid workers continue to arrive in the Philippines, with many focusing their attention on Tacloban where thousands are feared dead.
Charity Goal is focusing its work in Leyte, areas north of Cebu, as well as parts of Panay island, further north.
The charity is distributing water, food, hygiene materials and shelter and is expected to continue large-scale food drops later this week.
The death toll has officially been raised to 3,600 and is thought to now have affected more than 11m people.
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