Melody - A Young Survivor Of Typhoon Ketsana

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Thirteen-year old Melody's life was turned upside down the day Typhoon Ketsana [Ondoy] claimed the lives of her mother and two sisters in the Philippines.

While washing clothes at the relocation site where Melody, her father Jessie and two remaining siblings are temporarily staying, the young girl recalled the typhoon of September 26, 2009.

"We just finished our breakfast that morning...around 8 am. I was about to wash the plates when I saw from our window that the river was overflowing," Melody said. "In a matter of minutes, the water entered the first floor of our two-storey house. By 9 am, the water submerged our second floor so we all went up to the roof in an attempt to save ourselves."

One by one, the family attempted to use a rope tied to a coconut tree to escape to safety. Melody's brother, Buboy, 10, had already been saved by an uncle but her mother Crisanta, 34, and sisters Carla, 7, and Cherry, 2, were all stuck on the roof. Crisanta tied her youngest child to her waist and was attempting to reach the tree when the roof of their house collapsed.

"I saw all of them, including our neighbors, being carried away by the strong current," Melody said. She tried to hold onto a tree but lost her grip and was taken away by the water.

Melody swam hard but several logs prevented her from getting to the surface. She said, "I almost lost hope. At that moment, I miraculously floated and a man saw me and saved me. We swam and he brought me to a building where my father found me the day after."

"I miss my mother and two sisters so much," Melody said, fighting tears. "I miss how my mother cared for us. I miss the laughter of my sisters."

Melody's father, Jessie, said, "My only son is always looking at the horizon…I don't know what goes in his mind and I don't want to ask because I myself haven't come to terms with what happened." Jessie, 38, dreams of his wife and lost daughters and can't bring himself to go back to work.

"We're thankful that organizations like Plan have been generous and quick in helping us," Jessie said. "The school supplies given by Plan to my children have somehow given us good thoughts about moving on and starting a normal life."

Plan has provided medicines, food and education packs for school children like Melody and her siblings. Plan is also providing crucial psychological and social support as well as helping evacuees with the management of their temporary community.

As for Melody, she is determined to go back to school though she doesn't know how and when because her family lacks the necessary resources. For now, she gets through each day trying to put on a brave front for her father and other siblings. "I have to be strong. I am the eldest," she said.

For more information, visit plancanada.

Plan is a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries. For more information, visit

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