A typhoon hit the Philippines, but few have told the story of the aftermath — until now.

Do you remember the typhoon that hit the Philippines in November 2013? It struck the island, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving more than 4 million homeless. But the country has been left largely off the radar in global news since then. Why? Because the country isn't America?

This photo series shows what one aid worker has seen since the typhoon hit and how children are struggling to survive in a country heavily affected by the natural disaster.


Meet Michelle Wang, shown above. Wang is a psychologist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who recently returned from a two-week trip to the Philippines to train psychology students and conduct fieldwork in communities that are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

Below are her own words in which she explains what the photos mean.

"This is not an unusual or uncommon sight. During my trip, I would often find former residents squatting in piles of debris, trying to sift through and find items that might still be useful or valuable. Everyone on the streets seemed focused on the practical situation at hand, which was to re-build their lives. At least in public, no one seemed to be shedding tears.

"The absolute destruction is shocking. There's just no other way to say it. Even when I was still on the plane, especially from the plane, it was insane. Just stretches of land with no structure but one single boat. Such desolation.

"Because there were so many bodies to bury so quickly, the graves are very shallow. So dogs have dug up some of the bodies and children have reported seeing dogs with body parts in their mouths. The smell of death still lingers in the breeze. It will catch you in your tracks, you don't even want to wonder what it is or where it's coming from."

"These two children ran out to greet me when they saw I had a camera. They were eating breakfast and the boy was showing me that what he was eating was tasty. From what I saw, this type of housing — with actual doors and even a lock — indicates relatively good conditions compared to the rest of the coastal villages. Most of the temporary living quarters are not tall enough to fit a stool or hang clothes.

"Many of the survivors were all talking about relief and the humiliation of standing in line every morning waiting for food. They'd rather have nets to fish.

"They were all telling me that the cameras are now gone, and they're not getting the coverage they used to be.In terms of the psychological phase, many of the typhoon's survivors are in the disillusionment phase: 'Where is the help we were promised? We're hearing about all of these money coming in, but it's not trickling down to us.'

"When PTSD develops, this disillusionment phase is very vulnerable. You could see it in the survivors' posture and the way they walk. Heartbreaking, how the body betrays the mind.

"The antidote to disillusionment is empowerment."

"This is the school in Candahug. It is one of the few buildings still standing and the village seems grateful for this. When I asked the children if they enjoy being back in school, they yelled emphatically without any hesitation that they loved it because they got to play and be around their friends.

"I spoke to some parents in Tacloban city who actually discouraged their children from returning to school, saying they felt anxious and scared about sending them back after only two months post-typhoon. Many relatives are still very scared and protective. There's a desire to shelter their children from the outside world, which is itself a symptom of trauma. So every day these children are home, absorbing their parent's fear and anxiety."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.