By Costa Rica and Colombia Relief Team (Originally in Spanish)
Torrential rains that started on March 31, 2017, caused devastating flooding in southwest Colombia where the town of Mocoa in Putumayo Province was seriously damaged by the resulting landslides on early April 1. At least 316 people lost their lives, 332 were injured and 103 went missing. More than 720 families were displaced and dozens of homes were destroyed. Colombia’s president and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombia attributed the landslides to climate change. Scientists have also stated that deforestation is one of the factors that can leave communities vulnerable to landslides.
To provide immediate assistance to the affected people, Supreme Master Ching Hai offered US$13,000. Following Master’s instruction to render aid to those in need, our Association members from Costa Rica and Colombia formed a relief team and flew to Putumayo Province on April 24.
Before traveling, our team contacted Father Omar, a priest from Mocoa, who had been on national TV appealing for help for the families. Father Omar introduced us to Sister Sara, a nun from the Congregation of Hermanas de la Caridad de Santa Ana (Sisters of Charity of Saint Anne), who gave us tremendous assistance in our relief work in the municipalities of Villa Garzón and Mocoa, where many affected families were staying.
Upon arrival to Putumayo Province, we purchased food and necessities for the families in need from a local supermarket. The staff was very generous in helping us pack the supplies. Together with Sister Sara, volunteers and leaders of each community, we distributed relief packages in many communities in the municipalities of Villa Garzón, Mocoa and Puerto Guzmán. We also visited the Indigenous Cabildos (Indigenous Communities) and a settlement (encampment) called “Nueva Betania” in Mocoa, where hundreds of families were waiting to find new homes.
The situations of the families that we visited were very sad or even desperate, as many of them had not only lost their loved ones, but also their means of earning a living. The food and supplies we brought with Master’s love gave them some comfort and strength to move forward. One man’s family said it was the first time they watched him smile and sleep in a month, since losing his wife and son.
For the indigenous community of the Musurunakunas from San Antonio in Mocoa who had lost their sacred and ancestral land to the disaster, we bought zinc sheets that they needed to construct dwellings for traditional gatherings on new land that Father Omar had donated to them. They were full of gratitude and respect for our compassionate and loving Master, and said that Master is now one of the Musurunakunas, and that She will always have a special place in their community, especially in their hearts and prayers every day.
The other indigenous community, the Mayaskeres from San Miguel in Mocoa, needed plastic to cover the walls and ceilings of their constructions. So accordingly, we brought the plastic to them, along with some mattresses and blankets donated by the nuns from Sister Sara’s congregation who were working with us. The recipients were very grateful to the Lady (Master) who “didn’t know them” but sent them Her love and help from “so far away.”
For the 46 children who came from Mocoa to Villa Garzón for the internal healing workshops organized by Sister Sara and her congregation, we bought coloring and activity books, crayons, modeling clay and toys. We also gave them some vegan food to take home. It was great to see their faces lit up with happiness while playing with others. Their parents were extremely grateful to Master. We were touched to see that a family of three adopted a six-year-old boy from Mocoa named Iqui who had lost his mom to the landslides, despite the fact that the adoptive mother has just one leg and the adoptive father has poliomyelitis. We pray that God will bless this extended family with abundant happiness and love in the years to come.
After finding out about an elderly couple in Villa Garzón who were in need of help, we brought them food, a gas cooker, cooking utensils, cutlery and a full set of dishes. The couple’s house in Mocoa was destroyed by the landslides, and they were renting a house in Villa Garzón. We also gave them a thick, soft mattress and two pillows to help the wife breathe easier as she needs to be connected to oxygen 24 hours a day. It was beautiful to see how happy they were. It was like Christmas Day for them on May 2. They sent hugs and thousands of kisses to Master to give thanks for all the gifts She had given them.
When we gave food to the affected people, we always tried to give them special hugs on behalf of Master. Some of them said that the hug was more valuable than money or gold in that moment, because they could feel God’s love and comfort, and many of them even shed tears. We saw their faces transformed when they were touched by Master’s blessing and love. We knew that by doing this work, we were witnessing true miracles and were in the presence of God’s grace. May Heaven continue to bless all those recovering from the severe flooding in Colombia with much love and support.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai for Landslide Relief Work in Colombia
|Food and basic necessities (rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, lentils, white flour, corn flour, spaghetti, salt, coffee, jaggery, cookies, toilet paper, toothpaste, bath soap, detergent, and dish soap)||26,782,900||A|
|Zinc sheets, plastics, a gas cooker, cooking utensils, cutlery, dishes, mattress, pillows, coloring and activity books, crayons, modeling clay and toys||5,700,500||B|
|Relief supply transportation and travel expense for the relief team (air ticket, gasoline and hotel)||3,170,350||
|Total||COP 35,653,750 (US$13,012)|
Relief Work in Villa Garzón, Putumayo Province, Colombia – April 2017
Relief Work in Mocoa, Putumayo Province, Colombia – April 2017
Sister Sara’s Internal Healing Workshop in Villa Garzón for Families and Children from Mocoa
“Nueva Betania” – Mocoa – April 2017
Mayaskeres Community – San Miguel, Mocoa – April 2017
Musurunakuna Community – San Antonio, Mocoa – April 2017