It was early morning but the sun’s intensity was enough to wear you out after only a few minutes. We were on our way to Malalison Island – a tiny bump in the ocean about a half hour by motorboat from the west coast of Panay.
We’d heard from our local partners that little was known of the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on Malalison as communications had been severed. We knew they were mostly fisherman and farmers and they were directly in the storm’s path so we expected the worst.
When such a large area is affected by disasters, unfortunately small, remote places sometimes wait weeks for help. We heard no aid had reached them in over three weeks since November 8th.
The gorgeous turquoise blue waters and the distant green if the island made it look like a tropical paradise. As we drew nearer, the first thing we saw – or didn’t see – was the elementary school that stood near the shore. All that remained were bits of rubble. Haiyan took the school and much of the previous shoreline with it.
Once on the island, we realised they needed our help and so we went from house to house treating animals. We treated a young dog named “Negra” who’d just given birth to nine puppies two days before. She’d been attacked by another dog and had suffered injuries to her back leg. See a short video featuring Negra and her puppies here.
We also treated a young, frisky, female goat that was the only surviving goat in her area of the island. All the others had died from injuries sustained during the typhoon or from the cold. These animals are accustomed to temperatures in the 30s so a prolonged soaking and chill from seven hours of intense storms can lower their body temperatures and prove fatal.
She looked a little lonely to me, as I know goats tend to like to play and be together. As she received treatment from Dr. Juan Carlos Murillo, I wondered why did this one goat survive? I found out it was because her owners brought her inside their house to ride out the storm. When I asked her owner Allan, the barangay (village) captain why he had done this. He said, “My wife worried about her so we brought her inside”.
Animals and people need the same things, food, water, safe and suitable shelter. By bringing her inside, the goat’s owners showed compassion for their animal and also how a simple decision and preparation that includes your animals makes the difference between life and death.
The people in this area don’t generally name their livestock, but our logistics officer, Cinthya Diaz, on hearing her story, immediately christened her “Lucky”.