When Our World Literally Fell Apart

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted December 16, 2020 from Philippines
When Our World Literally Fell Apart
When Our World Literally Fell Apart (1/1)

Two weeks ago, while I attended the Aspire Resolve Unconference, water poured inside our house while it was raining. There were three mini “waterfalls” from the ceiling: one in the kitchen, one in the living room, one near the entrance. Our place is quite small so that’s all in one area. Within seconds, our house was flooded with water. My husband and I quickly cleaned up. It was a few minutes past midnight; our children were sleeping.

I felt unsafe that when another rain comes, water flowing through electrical wirings can cause a short circuit, and eventually start a fire. 

However, plot twist, instead of a short circuit, the water weakened our ceiling (made of cement board). It collapsed and fell over my husband. He is safe. 

This all took place after Busayo’s talk and before Sister’ Zeph’s talk at the Aspire Resolve Unconference.

Our family and I had an emergency transfer to a new place. We’re now settled to a safer and peaceful “home”.

The recent incident makes me reflect on how climate change has been wreaking havoc on millions of lives all over the world.

How can rain make an entire ceiling collapse? 

It’s not a one-time event.

The series of storms weakened the roof that allowed rainwater to seep through the ceiling. 

The Philippines experiences an average of twenty typhoons a year. Each year, these storms intensify. As a result, we have landslides, mudslides,  flash floods, storm surges. These natural disasters are not caused by one single storm incident. 

 

Last month, a tropical depression entered our country on November 10, then it intensified into a typhoon (locally named Ulysses) on November 11. It weakened on November 12, and then re-intensified on November 13 before it exited our country. 

Read it again. The storm already weakened, but then it re-intensified.  

Typhoon Ulysses affected a total of 1,245,841 families or 5,138,561 persons were affected in 7,236 communities.

Imagine how many from these numbers are women and girls were asking for help.

How many were pregnant? 

How many have just given birth? 

How many have disabilities? 

How many have a mental illness? 

How many have autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy? 

How many were in their menstrual period?

This is only one storm. Our 21st storm this year, to be exact. 

 

There was another storm that was as devastating as this. It’s locally named Typhoon Rolly.

Altogether, these are Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses in numbers :

  • Over 2.3 million affected people across eight regions
  • Over 23,089 individuals displaced in evacuation centers
  • Over 46,987 individuals displaced outside evacuation centers

 

Please pause for a moment and look at the number of individuals displaced in and outside evacuation centers.

What those numbers don’t tell us is how many are women and girls.

What those data don’t tell us is how many of these women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault.

Every storm incident, there is one woman or girl who is vulnerable to gender-based violence  Studies show that sexual assault happens in evacuation centers and temporary shelters.

 

Did I mention that there was a deadly storm before Typhoon Rolly? It’s Typhoon Quinta.

With all these 21 typhoons visiting our country and disturbing our peace, not to mention the number of earthquakes, there is COVID-19 in the equation. Our frontliners and rescuers are overworked, underpaid, stressed, and unappreciated. How many of these are women who also need to go back to their immediate families to tend to their needs? 

So these storms are not just an environmental issue, it becomes a social issue. The more typhoons that are coming, the more women and girls are unsafe.

This is a call for CLIMATE JUSTICE. To those in power who are making climate decisions, I hope you do not look at statistics as mere numbers, but as real people with survival stories. 

Exactly three years ago, December 17, 2017, my family and I woke up grateful to know that we survived a deadly typhoon. In a span of two weeks that month, our country faced three successive typhoons. My family and I are just one of the millions of typhoon survivors in our country. I'm fortunate to live to tell our story.  Others were not as lucky. The rest are still suffering in silence and living in trauma. 

Can you hear us? Can you see us? Do you feel our pain? Do you see our suffering?

 

 

This story was submitted in response to Gender-Based Violence.

Comments 18

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Regina Afanwi Young
Dec 17, 2020
Dec 17, 2020

Hello dear Karen,
I can't help crying as o read through your write up. Am extremely sorry for this unfortunate situation.
I am also proud of you that despite all this you were there to support sister Zeph during her presentation. You are such a brave encourager.
Karen dear my thoughts and prayers are with your family and the families of all those affected by these typhoons. I feel especially for the women and girls and more especially for everyone living with a disability.
I hope you and your family are setting in well in your new home.
Yes dear I see you, Yes can hear you and truly feel your pain.
Sending you and all those affected by the typhoon lots of hugs and love

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2020
Dec 17, 2020

Dear Regina love,

I marvel at your existence. You've been through so much, and yet you were during the ceiling-falling incident and kept checking in on me. I appreciate your love and care so much. Thank you for your encouragement. I feel I need to be there for Sister Busayo and Sister Zeph because they were there for me when I spoke at Aspire. It was also a way to distract myself from the stress, dear. Surely, what my family faced is nothing compared to the threats Busayo, Sister Zeph and You face. So I draw my encouragement from all your stories, love. At the same time, I write to inform the world that they need to take action for Climate Justice. The more storms come, the more women and girls are displaced, the more susceptible they are to gender-based violence.

Thank you for being there for me, my sister. Stay strong, too! Our scars are our strength. :D

jomarieb.earth
Dec 17, 2020
Dec 17, 2020

Dear Karen,
I wholeheartedly agree that the world is turning a blind eye to climate change. The world is being devastated under our feet. I hear you. Here in the USA we have constant hurricanes and floods in the east and fires like mad in the west. Our fire seasons are no longer seasons. There are periods of calm, then raging acres, canyons and mountain ranges of fires again. Our shorelines are quickly eroding. And we are the world's #1 hotbed for Covid19. Humanity everywhere is hurting on a new, unfamiliar level. And the rescue resources are stretched thin. The major world powers are not creating a meeting of the minds that is effective. Lack of participation by the USA, and the promises made by those who do arrive and promise at the Climate Change Conference don't deliver on their promises.
The only difference being made is Mother Nature guarantees her brutal blows. She unmercifully delivers her wrath as a consequence to us ignoring her. And we pay dearly.
Coming up (in a year from now) .... 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. .....https://g.co/kgs/8ajqv4
Take a good look now at....Nasa - Vital Signs of the Planet.... https://climate.nasa.gov/news/?page=0&per_page=40&order=publish_date+des...
Hugs...JoMarie

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2020
Dec 17, 2020

Hello, dear JoMarie,

You are right. Climate change is no longer a theory, we see it happening before our eyes. The hurricanes, floods, and wildfire in the US are also alarming! I mourn deeply when the environment suffers because of our neglect. Mother Nature is groaning. Are we listening?

Yes, I couldn't believe the US withdraw from the Paris Agreement. I was like, "Is this a joke?"
The promises remain promises because it will affect industrial corporations, that's bad for business.

Thank you for these links. I will check them later. I appreciate these so much, dear JoMarie! Hugs.

Nini Mappo
Dec 17, 2020
Dec 17, 2020

Hello again dear Karen:-)
I am so glad to read a series of your post of hope, ambition, triumph, misfortunes and calls to action. It feels like I can 'see' you again!
I am so sorry that your family suffered this scary incidence, but thankful for God's mercy over your lives that no one was hurt. It is a relief that you are resettled in a more peaceful home, and can only hope that with time, climate justice will prevent such events from happening. It feels like a faint hope in light of the severe devastation that you describe here, and the thought of more vulnerable women, girls and children continuing to be affected by adverse climate events is really heartbreaking. I hear you dear sis, and I send love and hugs of hope for better, safer days.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Thank you, Nini Love, I learned this year that crisis reveals character. Or in our case, crisis reveals "Christ is". Thank you for your message of love and encouragement as always! May your days in 2021 be filled with love, joy, peace, grace, and abundance!

Jill Langhus
Dec 18, 2020
Dec 18, 2020

Hello Dear Kaye,

Thanks for sharing your post, and bringing more awareness around the plight of your fellow countryfolk, women, and the call for climate justice, too. It was amazing how you were still present throughout the conference when that happened.

XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Thank you, dear Jill, it's the least I can do, although I hope women and girls would be able to share their storm stories on World Pulse.

Jill Langhus
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

You're welcome.

Sushmita Das
Dec 18, 2020
Dec 18, 2020

Oh my God!!! 20 is such a huge number.
I hope you are and your family is fine.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Hello, Sushmita, I missed the December Encourager Party because of the 22nd storm. We are safe by God's grace. Thank you for caring!

Sushmita Das
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Yeah, I heard about you and situation over there. Glad to know that you are fine and safe dear. Take care. :)

Anum Shakeel
Dec 21, 2020
Dec 21, 2020

Oh God!!! I hope you are and your family is safe.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

We are safe, dear Anum. Thank you for caring!

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 22, 2020
Dec 22, 2020

Dear Karen,
In the midst of a personal crisis, the ceiling of your own home this time, yet another disaster storm hitting your country, with all this happening you found time and strength as always to be thinking of others. Sisters speaking at the conference you has just rocked so wonderfully with your words, but also reminding the world of the extra work and extra dangers women face and are facing now with covid ongoing, and with humanity's need to "not look at statistics as mere numbers, but as real people with survival stories". You are so strong dear Karen. I hope that these days you are headed into a loving Christmas time with your family and community.
Love,
Tam

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Thank you, dear Mama Tam, I always think about our World Pulse sisters when I face personal challenges. Their stories of resilience help me become resilient, too. I appreciate your uplifting message! Hope you will have a great and wonderful 2021!

J Brenda Lanyero
Dec 26, 2020
Dec 26, 2020

Dear Karen.
The floods are just devastating...I can't help but tear up as more women and girls suffer the most. It makes me remember how we used to run and sleep in the bushes away from the rebel attacks and abduction. There was a time my little brother was only 5days old and we were attacked and we all ran separate ways but what my mother narrated after that makes me grateful to God till now because it was only He who protected my brother who rolled off my mother's arms 5times and fall a distance and my mother would run and collect him but he would roll again with flying bullets over head.

I adore you, so brave and encouraging as if nothing of such magnitude happen.

I can see you and I can hear you...my prayers and thoughts are with you.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Wow, dear JB, your stories should be written. I am glad God protected you through it all. You should write a memoir, love. You've been through so much, and yet your courage and strength are inspiring. You have no idea whose lives you are going to change simply by telling your story.

Thank you for always praying for us. May your 2021 be filled with love, joy, peace, grace, and abundance!