Hassan Ayouba is a Samaritan’s Purse disaster assistance response team member in Tacloban in the Philippines. Typically he works at the Samaritan’s Purse office in Niger.
I have a lot of experience with several small-scale emergency responses in the Sahel, from flood responses to food assistance and many more, especially in Niger. But my heart has never broken as it did when I landed in Tacloban in the Philippines. What I saw was worse than I expected.
As we were landing, all I could see were destroyed houses, plantations, and cars—in short, tremendous disaster. But, what surprised me was the courage and maturity of spirit of the people. Normally in West Africa, and especially in Niger, people would be mourning and crying for help in this situation, but here, it is different.
People were welcoming. Everybody gave me a great smile, and I was surprised that they were cleaning up the town and trying to help themselves. My heart was broken, and I said to God, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to partake in the response to this people.”
The first day I went into the community, I worked with local leaders to collect a list of names for distribution. While there, God gave me the opportunity to encourage and pray with an elderly person whose children left the town because of the trauma of seeing dead bodies all over the streets. When he saw us, he said, “I see you and I see help. May God reward you.”
As we were leaving for another place, he asked us to come back to say words of encouragement and pray with his family. From that, I learned that no matter what condition you find yourself in, give glory to God. Wherever God asks you to go, He can always use you for His glory.
The evangelical nature of Samaritan’s Purse gives me the opportunity to share my faith, to share the word of hope, and to serve the needy people as a humanitarian worker.