II. Taal Volcano eruption: a family’s journey
A family with special needs flees to safety
Eutropia, 48 is from Lemery, Batangas, one of the at-risk towns that were evacuated by the authorities. She fled with her husband and six children, including her youngest daughter, Leslie. 4 who has Down syndrome. Her family lived on a coconut farm, where her husband works, husking coconuts sold to wholesalers at the local market to make soap. Eutropia used to give manicures but stopped after Leslie was born. “We couldn’t afford therapy for her so I stayed home to give her my full attention.”
A long journey to safe shelter
Eutropia and her husband didn’t wait for the mandatory evacuation order. “The ashfall was starting to come down heavily, combined with earthquakes. We had to do something. I covered kids heads with damp towels and got a ride with the farm owner, who was also kind enough to put us up in a hotel for a night.” Their journey to San Jose wasn’t easy. “We initially went to an evacuation center in Taal, then to Kupang, and then Bauan, and finally here in San Jose,” she said. It’s been a challenge bouncing from one place to another, especially on her daughter with special needs. “Leslie needs time to settle and with each transfer, it takes her a while to adjust. I’m not sure how long we can stay here. As of 28 January, parts of Lemery, Batangas are still on lockdown. Some residents are gradually returning to their homes while others are opting to stay in evacuation centres. Local authorities are clearing roads and facilitating the safe return of affected communities.