Christmas in evacuation centers

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Just as some Mindanaoans thought their travails are over, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked Cotabato and Davao provinces again. The tremor was powerful than the three that struck late October that it was felt as far as Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, and Lanao areas.

Steel reeling from the previous quakes, hundreds of families in Davao del Sur and Cotabato areas had to evacuate again to safer grounds. Those who had just returned to their homes from the previous tremors had to be ordered by their local government units to flee their homes and temporarily dwell in safer places.

But where are these safe places other than the evacuation centers? And so, families must endure spending the holidays in cramped quarters and depend on the mercy and kindness of their fellowmen.

In a way, the story of our earthquake evacuees and those ravaged by natural and man-made calamities is the story of the Nativity that we see on display during the Yuletide season. The familiar scene consisting of three characters–Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus–in a manger, surrounded by sheep and bales of hay, depicts the human conditions: of resiliency amidst difficulties, of hope amidst trials, of humility in the face of an unkind world.

This, too, is the spirit that permeates evacuation centers, as reflected in the eyes of the children and the elderly who endure the lack of so many things in a place away from their comfort but are nevertheless assured that one day, their lot would be better.

In a way, this is instructive for all of us on how we see Christmas as it is: to be grateful for the things we have, to pray and help the needy, and not to lose hope amid adversity.

For we are hopeful that like the scene in the manger, the families living in evacuation centers will soon find succor, and in their suffering and fortitude we find our strength to go on and be kind to one another.

Merry Christmas!

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