Typhoon demonstrates need for shelter

A typhoon gave a work team from Australia a look at why their contribution to the Agta people was so valuable.

The team came to build a community center and clinic that would double as a storm shelter. But during their time in the Agta village, a typhoon hit.

“About 30 Agtas ended up in a house which lost much of its roof, and now sits at an angle,” wrote Don and Char Epp, who work among the Agta people.

Much preparation preceded the team. Nearly 1,000 bricks were made, and missionary pilot Zach Keller flew in a few weeks before the team and helped Don and Char and the Agtas get the cement pad ready for the building.

While the team was there, Zach’s wife, Jane, and daughter Mia came to help Char with the cooking and cleaning and assorted other tasks.

The team from Australia – seven carpenters – helped put up the brick walls and put on the roof in the ten days they were in the Agta village.

“Much progress was made on the building,” Don and Char wrote. “The roof is on, but the finishing is now under way. Finishing stage is still some months away.”

Don and Char are also working to bring clean water to the village.

“This has been a long time coming, and a very exciting project,” the couple wrote.

They have cut a trail and dug a trench for more than a mile of hose that taps into a spring up the mountain. That feeds into a concrete spring box.

“Hopefully in the months ahead we will all have good water readily available for all in the village,” Don and Char wrote. “We expect stomach and skin problems to reduce as people begin to rely on the clean water.”

The Agtas now say, “drinking water makes you sick.” And it is true, because the more water you drink, the greater your odds of getting stomach problems. This leads to dehydration, which leads to more health problems.

With clean water from the spring, “people will be healthier. ... This will be one of the best ways we can help our community.”

And the couple is helping fight tuberculosis.

“Tuberculosis is a huge problem here, and is slowly killing off the Agta people,” Don and Char wrote.

The health care workers at the local clinic were becoming frustrated because the Agtas seemed to treat their visits to the clinic more as social outings than a serious matter, and worse, would start and stop taking their six months of treatment.

“This starting and stopping of the meds is very unhealthy and potentially dangerous to not only the patient but to the whole area if a … resistant TB strain was developed,” the couple wrote.

So Don and Char and the Agtas have made a commitment to see the people follow through with faithfully taking their medication, and have made it successfully through more than three months already.

“One of our huge goals for the Agta people would be to help eradicate TB in the area,” Don and Char wrote. “Almost impossible for us to imagine but what a goal. With us working more closely with the local government TB program, this goal might just be reachable.”

Pray that the Agta people see Christ’s love in Don and Char as the couple helps meet needs in the village, and pray that this opens doors for the Gospel.