More than six thousand people were killed and four million displaced when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines one year ago.
Even twelve months later there are still thousands of families living in tents, without power, without easy access to clean drinking water, and without access to a safe school for their children.
The Seattle-based non-profit Child United has been working to change that.
“What we’re doing now is we’re helping by building learning centers for these children so at least they have a place to thrive and grow,” says Executive Director Christine Umayam.
Volunteers with Child United have made three trips to the Philippines over the past year. They have visited ten devastated areas helping rebuild homes, delivering relief supplies and giving toys to children.
“We see a child and we see a family and we feel so personally connected,” says Umayam. “A lot of the time I feel like this tragedy has been forgotten.”
But, she hasn’t forgotten. Umayam will be traveling to the Philippines again next week to begin planning the first of 20 learning centers Child United plans to build in areas hit hardest by the typhoon.
They will offer programs in early childhood development, before and after school programs, and disaster relief and preparedness program for parents.
Another big focus for the learning centers will be human trafficking. Umayam says parents barely able to feed their families are being tricked into giving their children to people who promise they can offer the kids a better life.
“They become victims of child sex trafficking,” says Umayam. “This area is a prime place for someone looking for that type of activity. If we could just educate the parents what to look for, hopefully those children do not become victims.”
Child United plans to use their learning centers to teach parents how to spot predators and keep their children safe.