Typhoon Haiyan

The magnitude of lost life is hard to comprehend. For most of the world's population, these tragedies - and others - are easy to forget when they are so far removed and life continues as normal. But what happens when tragedy hits close to home?
For the two weeks since the typhoon, these bodies have been laying face up - staring into the alternating blazing sun and pouring rain. The smell of decomposition was overbearing, but I couldn't look away from the little girl in the white dress. It seemed so wrong for her to be left to the elements like that, and stared at by anyone passing by.
Driving out of Tacloban Airport is easier than in the early days of Typhoon Haiyan's aftermath, but the scenes on either side of the road still assault the senses. The occasional lorry loads up corpses still being discovered in shattered houses. Everywhere, there is debris...
While the terrible devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan focused the minds of many delegates attending the United Nations climate change summit, which ended at the weekend in Warsaw, Poland, it also exposed the unscientific and inhumane ideology of many 'sceptics'.
When we drank our first San Miguel Light on Siargao Island to toast our small victory against the travel overlords, the sense of relief among our group was muted. We'd just reached the Philippines for a two-week beach, spa and city break, just a week after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the centre of the country, 70 kilometres north of our first stop.
When Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, almost all of Plan International's areas were hit. We were well prepared. We had worked with communities to stockpile hygiene kits, emergency shelter materials and clean water kits. Yet, the magnitude of the super typhoon and the devastating effect of the storm surges were much bigger than anyone could have imagined.
Warsaw revealed some serious divisions amongst groups of countries, and the language used became ever more heated. Indeed, the negotiations may well have raised the curtain on what will be some very difficult discussions when countries come forward with their 'contributions' from the end of next year.
On the way to Salcedo we passed through several towns - all affected to varying degrees by the power of the typhoon. The worst was Hernani - most houses had been washed out to sea or destroyed. The ashphalt had risen up together like mountain ranges combining - the force required to do that is incredible.
The team in charge of installing the inflatable hospital is arriving. It's with real joy that I meet up with old friends. Eric, my firm friend from Quebec with whom I already shared adventures in Burundi and Haiti. I had bumped into Daniel the mechanic in Nigeria, Damien the Aussie in Niger, Aurélie the electrician last summer when we were carrying on a vaccination campaign in a refugee camp in South Sudan.
The devastation is total, although fortunately there are some villages where the material damage is enormous but the death toll is not too high. We now have an army of technical specialists from our international office here in Manila, in many cases also acting as technical experts and guides for experts and assessment teams sent to the Philippines by other donors, because Plan International has been working in the affected region for decades.