VINCENT HELPS: the Vincentian Family’s Response to the Taal Volcano Eruption in the Philippines

[Province of St. Louise de Marillac-Asia] When Taal Volcano erupted last January 12, 2020, one of those heavily affected by ashfall were two of our Communities located in Tagaytay City: the Villa Sta. Luisa, a Retreat House of the Daughters of Charity and the Seminary Community. 

A day after the eruption, the Sisters visited different evacuation centers to get first-hand information on the situation of the evacuees. They gathered data that included the number of affected families, available spaces in evacuation centers, and the immediate needs of evacuees as well as of those working in Villa Sta. Luisa whose families were deeply affected. These data were considered in the planning conducted by Sr. Maria Ana Rosario G. Evidente, Visitatrix, with the members of the community of the Villa Sta. Luisa and the Sister Servants from the National Capital Region (NCR) to discuss the Province’s immediate response.

The initial planning also resulted in the decision to collaborate with other members of the Vincentian Family in what would be called: “Vincent Helps”. Volunteers were sent to different evacuation centers but their limited access to these centers to conduct psycho-social-spiritual support prompted the Province to open the community of Villa Sta. Luisa to accommodate individuals and families not registered in any of the evacuation centers and provide them with meals, healthcare, and items for their well-being as well as accompany them on their psycho-social-spiritual journey at the moment.

When the ongoing activity of Taal volcano with traces of fissures in several villages prompted the government to issue a total evacuation or lockdown in areas within the 14-kilometer radius from the center of the crater, Villa Sta. Luisa was included.  An emergency evacuation plan of the in-house evacuees was implemented and all were brought to safety, some to their respective families and some to registered evacuation centers; the Sisters and lay volunteers went back to Manila. The Rosalie Rendu Development Center, Inc. located at the DC Provincial House now serves as the command center of the VINCENTIAN FAMILY TAAL AID OPERATION.  

In the next two weeks of operation, the team decided to launch the “MOBILE RELIEF OPERATION” to affected areas not yet reached by government assistance. The team, with Fr. Gregorio Bañaga, Jr. CM, the Visitor, will visit possible areas to determine how we can extend our love and service.

May God continue to bless our humble efforts to alleviate the suffering of our sisters and brothers in a crisis situation! God, whose loving Providence is manifested through all those who have helped, materially and spiritually, is our ONLY REAL SECURITY. We entrust all to Mary, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal!

Sr. Marylou O. Espora, D.C.
DC Taal Operation Coordinator

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