Finding My Purpose After the Storm

March 16, 2016 • Philippines
Samaritan's Purse Philippines water, sanitation, and hygiene program

A life without direction finds hope in helping others

Zosimo Caballero serves as the team leader for the Samaritan’s Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene program in the Philippines.

I was like a speck on the sea, floating about without any direction. That’s how I can best describe my life before I got involved with Samaritan’s Purse. My only concern before that time was to support my family, and I could only do that by doing odd jobs from one place to another. Life was hard, but I figured that’s just how it was.

Then Typhoon Haiyan came and destroyed our home, and that’s when I got desperate. I asked myself what I should do. I had a family to support and no money. I was a carpenter, but I had nowhere to buy materials. I made cabinets, but who would buy them? People had no money after the storm. I was hopeless.

Samaritan's Purse Philippines, water, sanitation, and hygiene program

Zosimo Caballero, 62, is affectionately called “Tatay” (dad) by the Samaritan’s Purse staff members in the Philippines.

I remember clearly on November 20, less than two weeks after the typhoon, when a friend told me that an organization was looking for people to help with disaster relief. My wife said I should go, but I wasn’t at all interested.

“Why should I bother with disaster relief when our own house is still in ruins?” I asked her.

“Go, and worry about the house later,” she said.

Whatever cash for work I received would help our situation, so, in the end, I decided to go. I started out doing carpentry work for Samaritan’s Purse during relief operations. I never expected to eventually get assigned to the water, sanitation, and hygiene team. One of my experiences that I cherish is being involved in the process and completion of the first septage facility in Tacloban. I got to work on the project from the beginning, and I felt proud when it was finally turned over to the community on March 8, 2016.

A memory that stands out is when we were just about to start concrete work on the anaerobic buffered reactor section of the plant. It was crucial to have good weather, but the sky threatened rain early that morning just when we were about to start.

Samaritan's Purse Philippines, water, sanitation, and hygiene program

Tatay with City Environment and Natural Resources Office Engineer Jonathan Hijada

I immediately called our water, sanitation, and hygiene ministry coordinator, Dexter Saballe, and asked him to come over to the site. Dexter led our team in prayer, and, by God’s grace, the weather improved and we were able to finish the sensitive concreting job on schedule. From then on, our team started with a short devotion on site before we got to work.

At first, I thought my entry into Samaritan’s Purse was only as a volunteer, so I didn’t expect much. But my coming eventually led to real employment during the past two years. I feel thankful because it was a time when my family badly needed help too.

But I feel even more blessed because when Samaritan’s Purse helped us, we were also able to help others in turn. The chance to use my abilities to help people is, for me, the best part of my experience with Samaritan’s Purse. I thank the Lord that He gave me a chance to serve many people from the community here in Tacloban. I was able to share the talents He gave me. The Lord loves me very much. If it His will to add more years to my life, I will keep helping others. To God be the glory!