Friday, August 17, 2012
Rosalie is 10 years old and lives in Pateros, a neighborhood in Metro Manila. She is the third of five children.
On Tuesday night, Rosalie’s home began to fill with water as rain from a northern typhoon coupled with a southwest monsoon to swamp the city, unleashing a devastating flood.
“It was raining all night, all day and all night again. The water was up to here.” She holds her hand up to her waist. “We put chairs together in the middle of the room and slept on them. When I woke up, the water was up to here.” She raises her arm up to her shoulder. “We took some of our things and left our house. It was so hard to walk. My feet felt heavy in the water.”
Since then, Rosalie and her family have been living in a classroom on the second floor of her elementary school, which has been turned into an evacuation center. The already small classroom is broken up into seven smaller sleeping areas.
“It’s hard to sleep,” Rosalie confesses. “It’s hot during the day and very cold at night. There are only a few toilets downstairs. You have to stand in line and usually it’s a long line. Sometimes, I get pushed out of the way by bigger children.”
The toilets are temporary portolets that stand in the courtyard outside. They are beginning to overflow, the contents spilling out from underneath into the area where the children play.
“I miss going to school,” Rosalie says sadly, looking around at the classroom that has become her home. History and geography lessons still cover the walls and chalkboards. “I like reading Filipino stories in school.” She pauses, “I don’t know what has happened to my school materials. I miss my eraser.”
Schools are set to reopen on Monday. However, in order to open them, local officials must move Rosalie and her family to another evacuation center nearby. “I hope it’s much cleaner than this place,” she says.
Yesterday, Save the Children distributed emergency kits to the families living in this evacuation center, providing them with blankets, sleeping mats and hygiene materials. Rosalie received something else, too – a letter from her Save the Children sponsor in the U.S.
Enclosed with the letter was a jigsaw puzzle. Her eyes light up and she shows me. “I will share it with my brothers and sisters,” she says.
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