It seems, that there is, after all, quite a few chances to update my blog, since there is a clever invention called portable wi-fi. The connection is at times not really working, but I'm surprised and happy, that there is a connection, because the last couple of days I was very eager to go online. On Wednesday the nomination of my book was in the news in Finland. I'm so very excited, but don't dare to dream about winning the prize, because all the other nominated writers are so brilliant, but already the nomination is a huge honour and joy for me. Have to think of a way to celebrate it here with my new friends. Maybe I can find somewhere cold Coke and something delicious. Let's see what the days bring. Tomorrow I'm planning to go with some others to Omroc to buy first of all supplies and snacks for SOS, and then something sweet. Or salty. To be shared with the friends.
I've been writing a lot in my diary, which is the best way to think for me. Have created a very ”juicy” idea of a new novel, or better said, a short story collection. The thing would be to raise up some topics, that I've seen happening here and that concern me. By writing them ”out” I could hopefully open some closed eyes. Heal the world, in a way, if that ever is possible by writing, and I think it is. At least a good way to affect on some opinions. I think my third, now nominated novel, did the same thing, as it is kind of a speech against violence.
This part of the world is healing quite slowly, too slowly to be honest. I don't know, what foreign newspapers write or have been writing (or do they even write anymore?) about the situation here, but it's NOT at all okay. The unbelievable amount of garbage on the streets (the main streets are cleared as if to pretend that everything is taken care of), broken houses, still-no-electricity (the downtown is pretty spooky, when it's dark, like a zombie land or something) and contaminated water – this all is not at all taken care of. People are waiting for the government to do its responsibilities. Many countries have helped the government of Philippines after Yolanda with a lot of money, but what does the government: doesn't bring the money to places, where it's supposed to go. It's very corrupted. So the money is now, hmm, where excactly? In the pockets of the authorities?
People are upset, and no wonder. Tacloban smells (at least in the parts of the city where I daily work or drive trough) rotten (except when the big piles of rotten stuff are not being burnt, and if it is, the air is blue of smoke – not fresh at all – which is of course better than breathing the rotten air). Sometimes it's hard to hold myself from throwing up. Just because of the smell. Imagine how it is; very very hot and humid weather and all this crap lying on the streets. Yuh. Imagine how many diseases hide in those piles. Imagine, how fast it all could be clean, if the government would actually bring the money in its place.
For the people it's not so easy to find food or clothes or material for building up their damaged homes. Only organisations like Red Cross, Unicef, SOS etc. are actually doing something. A Chinese organisation (called something like ”money for work”) offers a nice amount of money to those, who volunteer to clean up the streets. The government – hmm. Let me see, where is it? Nowhere to be seen. At least nowhere with efficient amount of money and help.
Without the foreign organizations the people would propably starve to death or turn into desperate people. As they were during the first week after the storm. They went to supermarkets and stole food and goods, because the government didn't react fast enough (and is still not reacting), and they really didn't have anything to eat. I would have done the same. According to the news, the citizens of Tacloban were by that time (and some think they still are) violent and rebellious. But that's not true. After Yolanda, they were simply shocked, traumatized, thirsty, hungry, desperate. I mean, what would you do, if just like that your home, your belongings, your food, your drinking water, your money and everything is washed away – and if the help doesn't arrive on time?
What else does the government right now? Well. It should bring food to the people, fix the electricity, do something with the water situation. But I've seen with my own eyes, with what kind of food it provides the citizens: rotten sardines and other canned, expired food. The cans are rusty and if you open them, you might ”meet up” with totally out-of-date, bubbly ”stuff”, that you would not put into your mouth even if you were the hungriest person in the world. (Unfortunately I can't post pictures yet, but will do it later to show you, how it is.)
When it comes to the children, without SOS there would be no track of who is still alive and who takes cares of them, to check that they're not homeless or without an adult. Unicef and Red Cross are co-operating, by providing teaching materials and health checks, injections etc. SOS organizes daily activities with children in different parts of the city, and a so called ”Children Friendly Space” to bring some security among the kids, since the schools are closed, and provides them with snacks twice a day. The goal is to offer also a warm meal every day, but so far it's not possible. Already finding the snacks here, in Tacloban, is very difficult. Luckily, there are other towns, where things could be found and bought, but therefore a long car ride is needed. Like tomorrow. We plan to leave at 3 AM.
There are lots of volunteers here working for SOS (most of them teachers themselves, from local schools, and all of them so warm and nice people, that I'd love to either move here to work some more months or years, or pack them in my backbag and take them to Germany and work with them – together with my lovely colleagues in Munich, greetz to you girls! – for the rest of my life), and together we all do a lot. It's very important what is done here, I have to say. I wouldn't like to leave next week, not yet. This project here takes propably couple of years. And help is needed. Would love to help longer – and if there is a chance somewhen next year, I will come back.
One more thing I have to say: can't, of course, speak Philippenean, but I've learnt some words, like how to say good morning, water, no, yes, eyes, hips and bottom. The Philippinean kids understand quite a lot of English, which makes it easier to volunteer here. Anyways it's nice to learn new languages. Philippinean is so funny with double words or names (like dabi dabi, iloilo etc.), that why not learning it more. Maybe the language itself is one reason for the people being so happy, smiling, warm and helpful.
I have only one week left here. It will be sad and tough to leave this all behind. But for sure, I will not forget this place and these people. Actually I'm planning to donate a part of my book sale income here next year. It is worth to donate money to an organization. I think all the other countries, the governments I mean, should rather put the money in the accounts of organizations than the authorities of Philippines.
P. S. The donations that I took from Germany with me, are now on the SOS Emergency Fund account, or what ever they call it. So basically the money stays here in Tacloban, where help is the most needed. A big thank you from SOS to all of you, who took part in this donation ”project”.