Compassion International children dead, missing after Philippines flood

By December 20, 2011

Philippines (MNN) — Nearly 1,000 are dead in the Philippines as a result of the weekend's flash flooding disaster.

Mass burials are being prepared for many of the dead. A government official told BBC News, "We lost count for those still missing."

Tens of thousands have been affected by the flooding in Mindanao, including children from Compassion International's child development centers.

"It's difficult to confirm anything because our electricity and the phone lines are unavailable right now, but what seems to be coming in is that we have had children killed, and that we have some more that are missing," reports Kathy Redmond, Compassion's U.S. Communications Director.

Redmond says at least 10 church partners have been affected as well, but everything has been difficult to confirm. Even when they are able to communicate, Compassion staff are still unable to reach affected areas. Redmond says the island structure of the Philippines only enhances that obstacle.

Compassion has about 54,000 children in 320 development centers in the Philippines. Most of those are in areas away from Mindanao. Those that have been affected will at least have the means to determine who is missing when transportation becomes plausible again.

"We have more information on these kids than even the government has," notes Redmond. "So we would be able to pretty much detect rather quickly which kids are missing and that sort of thing."

Compassion is doing all they can to connect with the affected children in their programs. It will be a long road to recovery, which will include replacing books, buildings, homes and keeping children from disease. Assessing the scope of the situation will be a long and arduous process, though.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Compassion is providing survival necessities, says Redmond. "The first thing that we need to do in that area is to just stabilize it and provide for immediate needs of the people that are there–they're going to need food, drinking water and clothing."

Compassion works closely with the local church, and Redmond says many in need have already been heading to churches to look for help. Community members who may never otherwise visit the church are now coming, knowing they will be helped by the believers there. Pray that if nothing else, this disaster will provide Gospel opportunities.

If you sponsor a child with Compassion who has been affected by this disaster, you will be contacted via phone. If you're not contacted, Redmond says, your child is likely okay. Call 1-800-336-7676 for more information on a sponsored child, or to give. Give to disaster relief also at Compassion's Web site.

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