Sharon Belbeder was eight months pregnant when she fled Typhoon Haiyan.
The terrifying disaster showed her how important it is to prepare for emergencies, so she learned first aid. And she didn’t have to wait long to put her skills to the test.
Typhoon Haiyan smashed apart homes and lives in Sharon’s village of Silagon.
It’s an isolated place – the only road in and out is covered with water at high tide.
When the road is clear, drivers have to steer their way past thick mangrove swamps to reach the community.
After the typhoon came, fallen trees and other wreckage cut off contact with the outside world for days.
With her due date just a few weeks away, Sharon had to crawl out of her house as it was battered by strong winds.
She survived, but she and her neighbours faced huge problems. Their fishing boats were ruined – with food running out, villagers chopped up the wood and used it to make crude rafts.
The Red Cross sent urgent aid to the community. And now it is helping people get ready for future disasters.
This includes encouraging people to become Red Cross volunteers, and giving those volunteers the skills to protect themselves and others.
It’s vital work. Typhoon Haiyan showed that when disasters happen, the people affected are also the first to help.
No doctors in sight
Sharon signed up as a volunteer and took part in first aid training. Soon after, a local teacher collapsed in the classroom.
Sharon rushed to help. Using her training she checked for vital signs and put the teacher – who was unconscious but breathing – in the recovery position.
Eventually, Sharon and others got her to a nearby health clinic. Now the teacher is back on her feet.
Sharon said: “I just wanted to help someone. It felt good, and I’m thankful for the training.”
Other skills people have learned include what to do before and during a disaster, as well as search and rescue techniques.
Sharon said: “I’d encourage other people in the community to become volunteers.”
Thanks to her and other volunteers, everyone here – including Sharon’s baby boy Joshua – will be safer next time disaster strikes.
- Thanks to our supporters, we are helping people thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan earn a living, get a safe place to live, stay healthy and prepare for future disasters. Local volunteers are at the heart of this work. See more stories from the Philippines.
- You can help people caught up in emergencies around the world, by donating to the British Red Cross Disaster Fund.