In the Philipines, Kaye rises above the storm

By Mong Jimenez and edited by Megan Radford

Kaye has a smile that puts you at ease right away. The 14-year-old student made friends easily when she transferred to a new school several years ago. Smart, driven, and kind, she was an instant favourite with teachers and her peers.

One day a huge storm broke out across the Philippines. Kaye’s community was one of the affected areas, and residents did all they could to keep families and properties safe.

But nothing could stop the waters of one of the town’s rivers from swelling through the streets and flooding houses. Property was swept away, and so was the community’s hope.

When school resumed, students eagerly looked for their friends’ faces. Everyone seemed to have regained some of their joy- everyone except Kaye.

The girl who was everyone’s friend had changed. Her bubbly, happy-go-lucky personality was dampened by silence and withdrawal from school activities.

Kaye had reason to be grave. When the storm approached, she and her younger sister retreated to their uncle’s house on higher ground while her father and his three brothers stayed behind to secure the house.

When the flood rose, it caught them off guard and her father almost drowned. Thankfully, one of his brothers managed to grab him. Her mother, who was working as a babysitter in a neighbouring town, barely survived as the flood entered the house she was staying in. The brush with death her parents suffered had shaken Kaye.

Months passed, and one day Kaye seemed to have regained her purpose. That smile and zest for learning was back, and with it, a new goal: to make sure her fellow students were ready if a disaster hit again.

Kaye had attended a workshop run by World Vision on preparing for disasters. She began teaching her school about creating emergency evacuation plans, and the “Duck, Cover, Hold” earthquake drill.

Kaye also made sure that her friends knew how important it is that children be involved in disaster preparedness activities, since children are some of the most vulnerable population during disasters. Her passion led her to propose a school-wide evacuation plan and drill practice so the next time a disaster hit, the students would all be prepared. 

Challenges in our lives either make us or break us. The storm that hit Kaye and her family brought damage to their lives. But with her new knowledge from the emergency preparedness workshop, Kaye willed herself to rise above it. Now she is making sure that her family, and the community she belongs to, won’t be overcome by devastation again.

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