After a few days in Tacloban City, we noticed a young smiling boy wearing tattered clothes hanging out near the front of our hotel. We soon noticed that he was hungry, so we started to bring him the breakfasts of those volunteers who did not feel like eating in the morning.
Talking with him more, we learned that he and his father had lived by themselves because his mother abandoned them and moved to Cebu city. He also had an older sister who lived in Tacloban City. Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is called in the Philippines, changed Dale's life forever. Both his father and sister were killed in the typhoon, and the shanty house that Dale lived in was swept away by the water somehow he survived.
Now with no family and no home, Dale sleeps on the street in front of our hotel. Although he is 13 years old, he looks much younger and is malnourished. Because his mother is still living, he is not considered an orphan and does not qualify for the services offered to those children orphaned by the typhoon, even though his mother abandoned him.
During our time in Tacloban City, we see the harsh reality of the devastating effects of the typhoon. We see homes destroyed, power lines fallen, people without electricity, etc. We have also met many survivors of the typhoon and have heard about how they have lost family and friends.
Dale's story is the culmination of all these stories because he lost his family, his home, and his future. Without food, shelter, education, and the loving care of adults, he will not thrive. Life on the street is all that Dale knows now, and he cannot imagine another life. A 13-year-old boy does not have the ability to search for resources offered to the typhoon victims by himself. Nor does he have the maturity and understanding to know that a child should not have to live on the streets.
Hopefully one day soon, very soon, some adults who can help, will realize that this child should not be living on the streets, and then Dale's story will change for the better.
Max Cheng , USA