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Learning basketball early: it is a sign of hope that children are able to laugh and play their favourite sport again on a sunny afternoon in north Cebu, Philippines.

September 26, 2014

By Simon Chambers

I’m back in the land of the wi-fi after three nights on Bantayan Island visiting communities where 90% or more of their houses were damaged or destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. Tomorrow morning, I will be leaving Cebu again for the island of Leyte””perhaps the most devastated by the typhoon.

But I don’t want to talk about horrors today. Instead, I want to talk about basketball. (If I’d just said “hockey”, you could insert your own Leafs/horror joke here). In most countries I’ve visited, I see children playing soccer everywhere. In the Philippines it’s been basketball.

I’ve seen basketball hoops in the middle of fields, put up in the remains of a destroyed house, and constructed of driftwood. Even when there isn’t a hoop around, I see boys with basketballs in hand. And every time I see basketball here, I smile.

For me, seeing children playing is a sign of normalcy. And when I can see that sign of everyday happiness in communities where there are twice as many coconut trees knocked over as standing, and where some people are still calling UNHCR tents “home”, it says to me that healing is happening in people’s hearts.

I think that the goal of the relief work of PWRDF and our partners is not just to get people back into their homes and back to work, but to help people’s lives get back to normal. God wants us to live, not just to survive.

And here in the Philippines, basketball is part of how children live.

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