September 26, 2009, was a day that would stand as a turning point for thousands of families in the Metro Manila area as Typhoon Ondoy (or Ketsana) pounded the Philippines. Areas where homes and communities had once been alive and vibrant were transformed into murky lakes in just one day. The Metro Manila area experienced more rainfall in one day than they normally receive in one month. This natural disaster was likened to Hurricane Katrina, a storm that devastated much of the Southern United States in 2005 and a storm many of us lived to tell about.
Many of the affected areas were the areas that squatters have claimed and established makeshift communities. The average squatter community is made up of homes that are built from material never intended for a house: old tin, tarps, used lumber, and just about anything else you can imagine. Not to mention, most of the squatter communities are located in areas that are prone to flooding. In the midst of the flooding, these squatters found themselves floating in no less than eight feet of water where their simple homes once stood. Once the rain stopped, thousands of families found themselves with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and nowhere to go.
Fortunately, several NGOs and foreign governments have provided aid to the Filipino government to help relocate thousands of families to new homes away from the flood-prone areas. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit one of these new relocation sites located in the province of Rizal. The group I was with ministered to sixty families with New Testaments, a gospel presentation, and a bag of dry goods, simply things that carry great significance for families who have literally lost everything, and that was not much at all to begin with.
Sometimes it is good to experience a brief reality check, a simple and swift reminder that I want for nothing. I am safe; I have access to food and clean water; I have shoes; I am healthy; I am rich in every way imaginable.