Videojournalist Tim McRobert and I went to the Philippines a month after the mudslide disaster to file a series of reports on the rebuilding- of both lives and homes. We followed the Hawaii-based Aloha Medical Mission, which was going to heal victims' bodies and minds.
We went expecting the worst: the worst living conditions, downtrodden spirits, depressing propsects for the future. We thought we would be overwhelmed with misery.
Instead, we found the best: the best of humanity, the amazing ability people have to adapt and overcome, the hospitality and appreciation of refugees who gave what little they had, even if it was just a smile. We saw the light in childrens' eyes when they saw the medical team coming to help, and when Tim handed out just one piece of candy to cheer up their day.
All week, we put together stories about our trip, including the threat of future mudslides/ unstable land, the issue of child trafficking for the orphans, the risk of communist rebels the entire group encountered, and a Hilo woman's final goodbye to the family she loved, now buried under the mud.
Then on Friday, we've got all new stories for you. We introduce you to the youngest and oldest survivor of the slide, tell you the horrors one girl- now and orphan- witnessed with her own eyes, show you the mudslide as it is today, uncover a mystery that doubles as an unmistakable Hawaii connection, and follow the medical team as they heal the physical and emotional wounds left by the slide. Lastly, we tell you what the Aloha Medical Mission is doing to keep a permanent presence in the area.
We shot a series of stories that I know I won't forget. It was the best work I've ever done, and I'm sure Tim feels the same about his videojournalism. We were moved by the people we met- and I'm certain you will feel the same after you see and hear their stories