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Typhoon Haiyan: The Story of Rizza

by User Not Found | Jan 07, 2014

As it did for hundreds of families in central Philippines, Typhoon Hayian descended with a fury into the world of eleven year old Rizza. Her life would be forever changed.

Rizza lived in Leyte with her mother, father, and seven sisters and brothers. Just the day before Haiyan hit land, Rizza's mother, Yolanda gave birth to another child and Rizza went to stay with her aunt and uncle. While there the typhoon spent it's fury on the islands of the Phillipines causing the house where Rizza was staying to collapse, trapping her under debris. She was rescued but not before the storm badly fractured her leg and claimed the life of her father.

With the infrastructure badly damaged, there was little Rizza's family could do to treat her leg. The local healer offered some help but the pain continued to be excruciating with any movement. Finally the village chief offered assistance. She arranged for 4 young men to carry Rizza on a hammock 14 miles through the wreckage to the nearest medical care. Without an xray machine available and no surgical facilities there was nothing that could be done. Onto another hospital where finally a diagnosis was made of a complex femur fracture but no one had the proper equipment to repair. Now 14 days after the storm, Rizza was out of options to find healing.

This is where MTI volunteer paramedics, Ian Yokum and Robert Petracca found Rizza. Using contacts they had developed while treating victims of the storm, Ian and Robert were able to secure private helicopter transport to Cebu, arrange an orthopedic surgeon to treat Rizza for free and then personally monitored Rizza's condition as she was transported to safety.

After exchanging information with the medical staff, Ian and Robert went to Rizza's bedside reassuring her that she was now in good hands. Their reward was the immediate look of relief on Rizza's face and the grateful response by her village chief. Rizza was on the path to healing.

Robert Petracca, Logistics/Planning Officer & Rizza