Finding Strength

By Martin Lance Baang | Posted on February 27, 2023

On December 16, 2021, the Philippines was struck by Super Typhoon Odette, known internationally as Typhoon Rai. The Visayas islands were especially hit, Cebu island. I could not remember the last time I feared the power of a storm since most times our homes would be spared the path of destruction.  

The winds whipped into the small homes of our village, and split the fences and trees, and it began to pick up until the gusts of wind permeated our walls and blasted through into our living room. Power had long been severed, and we sat around our altar to pray. A single candle lit up the room, and it wisped about through the turbulent breeze. We prayed for protection, and we prayed for peace. The sounds of crashing and crushing surrounded us as we beseeched the comfort of God. 

Dawn brought cloudy skies and a light rain, but we saw with our eyes the destruction left behind. Splinters and fallen trunks littered where sturdy, towering trees once stood. We were devastated, and we were left with no electricity and no running water. 

But from the disarray, we as a community came together. We sought each other’s refuge, and we worked together to return our village to its once pristine condition. The weeks that followed saw small children, youth, and adults work together to clean, deliver food, and store water from low-lying pipelines. Our company and determination became sources of comfort. Members of the local government extended their aid, and we continued the holiday celebrations in the dark, but with grateful hearts. 

I envision Rotary and Rotaract to continue to serve the community, not only during times of calamity, but in times of peace, when it is possible to plan and coordinate with sectors of society that can improve disaster preparedness. Rotaract youth can learn about new technologies that could be used to supply and store energy and potable water under the goal to provide opportunities for young people to address the needs and concerns of the community and our world, and cover the areas of focus that encompass Sanitation and Community Development. 

I wish to see Rotary and Rotaract reach other non-government organizations, such as groups that help children and families in need under the focus of Maternal and Child Health. Children in alternative family care facilities can benefit from the compassion and support from the youth of Rotaract, with the guidance of Rotary International, inspired by the spirit of a compassion and a sense of community.  

In the year that followed, on the eve of another New Year celebration, I envision Rotaract continuing to be the flickering light in times of continuous uncertainty for generations to come. 

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