On 16 December 2021, Category 5 supertyphoon Odette devastated most parts of the Visayas region and Northern Mindanao in the Philippines. For those already struggling to survive due to containment measures related to COVID-19, it was a brutally tragic experience which left houses without roofs, trees without roots and families without loved ones.

Don Bosco Formation Centre (DBFC), Lawaan, was alsonot spared from the calamity. Thanks to the Salesians, aspirants, young people from Don Bosco Youth Centre and Lay Mission Partners, the place was cleaned, water was restored and electricity was provided with the aid of a generator. The intention was never to rest after this clean up - the DBFC was then able to reach out to help the neighbouring communities from a position of strength, providing clean water and a device-charging station for free. The Salesian Community also received relief goods fromgenerous benefactors which was distributed to those who had been hit hardest by the typhoon. One of the worst hit areas was Bohol Island, and after some logistical difficulties, relief goods were sent to the families and water filtering systems were distributed to communities. Recognizing the need for a positive environment even in the wake of disaster, the Mary Help of Christians garden was transformed into a public open space where people could stay, relax and have a picnic. Given that this occurred in the lead up to the celebrations of the Christmas Novena Masses and Christmas Season, it was a crucial ray of hope despite all the pain and suffering. As a result of this outreach and opening of the community, the DBFC became a home to everyone from the neighbouring communities. A part of the reflections from the 2021 Strenna held that “pain and suffering are a necessary door to hope” and this proved true; while everyone suffered as one, the combined efforts reawakened hope and zeal as the communities rise, move on, and heal.

Republished from the Australian Salesian Bulletin - Autumn 2022
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