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Children of Haiyan

Photographer: Nic Bothma


What occurred on 8 November 2013 will go down in history as the biggest storm known to mankind. Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda to the Filipinos, slammed into the eastern Philippines with record winds of more than 300 kilometers per hour. A storm surge of up to four meters destroyed more than a million houses. The death toll from Haiyan's destruction has exceeded 4,000 with more than 1,600 missing, more than 18,000 injured and more than four million displaced according to the national disaster relief agency.


The children living in the eastern Philippines that survived have harrowing tales and an imprint in their memories that will last through their lifetime. No one was really prepared. The government issued a warning of a strong typhoon with storm surge. But the term storm surge did not mean much to the residents and they did not anticipate the power which was similar to a tsunami. Typhoons are common in the Philippines with up to twenty in a year sometimes.


For three days after the storm the city of Tacloban descended into chaos with no police. Law and order reinforcements arrived and restored control after this period, and residents could begin salvaging their lives. For the children this meant looking for their relatives, water, food, lost possessions, helping their parents and finding shelters to stay in.


The resilience of the Filipinos throughout this disaster is incredible and reflected in the spirit of these children, who continue to play and smile and laugh. The children of Haiyan are an inspiration to the global community and testament to the power of the human spirit.