In a village 45 minutes outside of Tacloban, you'll find a family that fought hard to survive Typhoon Haiyan in November, and is now fighting to rebuild.
Jansen is five, and was born with cerebral palsy. As Typhoon Haiyan roared into his village, Jansen’s parents watched in horror as a surge of water raced toward their home. Acting fast, they tore the door off their fridge, and piled their three children inside. Water inundated their home, and lifted the fridge. Jansen’s mom, Joverime, held on tight. With her free hand, she gripped the top of a brick wall.
Joverime watched her home torn apart, but she held on tight to save her children’s lives.
Handicap International teams are used to natural disasters. We know from years of experience that it’s often people with disabilities who struggle the most when storms ravage their communities—and it’s key that they have aid tailored specifically to their needs. Handicap International teams travel village-to-village, door-to-door to ensure that everyone who needs help gets it—and that they get the right kind of aid.
This is how we first met Jansen. This child had spent most of his life on a bed, doing very little. Jansen never had a wheelchair, nor access to physical therapy, which would have helped his development as an infant.
Our team wanted to see him upright, and returned a few days later with a wheelchair built specifically for his smaller frame. It was also rugged enough for his parents to push him over uneven terrain.
For the first time, Jansen can go outside and interact with other children. His mother says he often shouts with joy when he’s in the sun.
On Thursday, Feb. 27, Jessica Cox, the world's first pilot born without arms, and a Goodwill Ambassador for the charity, took time to check on the family. As she left, she spoke of the storm's silver lining. "Typhoon Yolanda was a tragedy, but it brought HI (Handicap International) to Tacloban, and now people with disabilities are getting support they need to live better lives," she said.
Jansen is happier than ever. And his mom can now be sure he’s safe in his wheelchair while she does housework and other tasks.