Maritime charity helps children still traumatised five years after Typhoon Haiyan

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Five years ago on 8th November, Typhoon Haiyan – one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever recorded – hit Southeast Asia, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving an estimated $2.8 billion worth of damage.

Marylourds Lim, 11, survived the disaster, but struggled to deal with the mental trauma it caused.

“I kept thinking about it. I kept dreaming a dog was chasing me. I felt that there was another typhoon coming,” she said.

International maritime charity Sailors’ Society responded to the disaster by raising £225,000 through an emergency appeal. The charity has rebuilt 48 homes, four medical centres and three classrooms – that double as emergency shelters – since Typhoon Haiyan.

It also founded a Seafarers’ Pupil’s Club to help children like Marylourds come to terms with their traumatic experiences and train them in disaster preparedness.

The charity’s deputy CEO and director of programme Sandra Welch said: “After the disaster I visited the Philippines and spent a lot of time speaking to the children in the schools. I realised as I spoke to them that many of them were traumatised by what had happened and that they were still afraid.”

Teacher Annielor Malooy lost some of her pupils in the disaster. When the school began to hold classes again, many of the pupils were deeply affected by their experiences.

Ms Malooy said, “They were telling me ‘my mother died’, ‘my father died’, ‘we don’t have any food’ – I gave them my love but that’s not enough when someone has lost everything.

In the aftermath, the school focused on the children’s emotional well-being rather than academic lessons and Ms Malooy believes that the Seafarers’ Pupils’ Club has really helped the children.

“The children have gained more confidence since attending the club and we’ve had parents comment that it has really helped.”

Marylourds added: “We were taught how to prepare before and after the typhoon, what we should do. I’m not afraid anymore.”

Ms Welch said, “Five years down the line, we’re still helping people dealing with the trauma of a disaster. Sailors’ Society does not forget those affected, we’re about transforming lives and staying with them when it’s really tough.

“We will continue to work with those communities and support them because typhoons aren’t going to go away.”