This is my first time joining the writing prompt by @JonicaBradley. So here is my attempt at this.
It was a rainy night. Me and my brother were at our apartment. We just had our dinner and we were all relaxing that night. While browsing through his social media account, my brother's friend chatted him asking what color was our family house. He chatted him back. His friend then replied: "I think your house is on fire."
We didn't believe it right away. It's impossible. How can that possibly be? Me and my brother didn't take it seriously. There was an alarm but we were not concerned. Yet.
We reasoned out that maybe it was one of our neighbors and my brother's friend may have mistaken our house. The way his friend described the house on fire was far from what our house looked like.
Then a cousin chatted me whose house was next to ours. She was asking me where I was and if I was at our family house. I said no, I wasn't. Then to my horror, she sent me photos of our house on fire taken from their balcony.
I can see my sister in our yard. I immediately called my family back home but I can't contact anybody. I kept calling until I was able to contact my sister. We were under restriction at that time and we can't go out. We are in total lockdown. Imagine my fear, anxiety, frustration and helplessness. I then called my other brother who lives in another barangay nearer to our home and informed him of the situation so he rushed to our home right away.
My worry then is my family. I was praying and hoping they were all able to get out of the house fast enough. Also our grandfather was there at that time and he has trouble walking. I'm concerned about my mom too for events as traumatic as this weakens her that she tends to collapse because of stress and too much emotion.
I was able to contact my mom and talked to her a bit but then she was taken to the ambulance to stabilize her. From the few minutes we talked, it was clear that everyone got out before the house burned down to the ground and no one was harmed.
Good thing the fire didn't progress any further else more houses would have perished. My aunt, the mother of my cousin who sent me the photo, has blood pressure concerns as well and she too was rushed to the hospital because of anxiety attack that night. Their house is just a few feet away from us so her worry is understandable.
Me any brother went there first thing the next morning.
The sight we saw just brings tears to one's eyes. We grew up in this house. Thirty plus years of memories were gone overnight. We can still recognize precious things amidst the charred rubbles. I can still picture every single room amidst the ruins. At the time that this whole thing was going on, I just felt helpless and frustrated for I cannot do anything.
The fire started from our neighbor and our house unfortunately caught fire as well. Our neighbor will not accept accountability. Allegedly, it started in one of the empty units. The neighbor's reasoning is that it is not their fault for there was no one in the unit at that time. There is still negligence on his part for not their is faulty wiring or whatever in that unit. There is still negligence for him not checking the unit.
Fire trucks came too late. They were watching the whole thing in facebook but according to them, no one was calling their station and they are not sure where was the fire. When they did arrive, they didn't listen to neighbors asking them to secure the neighboring houses instead for saving the burning house for it would be too late but they still tried. When they finally heeded the call to check our house, it was too late. They were even ill equipped asking around who has an ax. They needed an ax to break one of the water pipes for their truck ran out of water.
I don't want to dwell on those now for I want to move forward. What happened happened. If our neighbor doesn't want to be held accountable, then so be it. We would rather focus our energy to our family and our home.
During that time of darkness in our life, we were lost. We were hopeless. We don't know where to go and what to do. It is a traumatic experience. We were all in shock. However, I thank God for using our neighbors, relatives, friends, church members and even strangers. Some of our family were housed in our neighbors' houses until a makeshift shelter was erected for the family to move in. The first three days, there is a community service to help in clearing the debris. One after another, donations started pouring in. Some donated money, others food, clothes, household items, etc. Some even donated building materials. For the first couple of months, help just kept pouring in.
In the midst of it all, my brothers and sisters had to give up their jobs. We need every hand we can get to help us rebuild our home. We have to call cousins and other relatives to help us. The first few weeks they were there almost every day. For the first few weeks and months are the hard part of the job. Some days, church members will come to help as well.
We had to do everything manually so it was a slow process. There were some disagreements from time to time but things are then smoothed out later on. There is pressure from elders especially those who still practice the beliefs and traditions of old like for example waiting for our grandfather to make a decision about certain things and so on.
It's almost a year now since the incident but until now the trauma is still fresh and we are still reminded of it like it just happened yesterday. It would be easy to blame someone, to be angry at our neighbor who will not take responsibility for his carelessness but God reminded us every day that He watched over the family and that they are safe.
One such reminder is that some bibles have survived the fire without any sign that it was touched by fire. God is bigger than any fire, tragedy or calamity. We could have just given up but daily reminders are always there.
Just like this little butterfly that kept flying around the area. It will fly near from one person to the other until it decided to land on my brother's finger. It's like saying to us all not to worry for you are still blessed to be alive to tell your story.
Some afternoons when we were done with the day's job, I would sit in one spot and admire the sunset.
It's a time for reflection and thanksgiving for all the blessings that we received. Despite what happened, I am grateful for the compassion that people have towards their fellowmen. When those we know learned about the incident, many offered prayers, some sent help right away, some visited the next day to offer help. They opened their hearts right away. I will be forever grateful of their kindness and help.
Through the compassion and kindness of others, we were able to start building a new home. It is not yet finished for construction had to be halted for we have to start earning funds to be used to continue building again.
This is going to be not just a home for our family but for everyone for this is built through the help of others.
If you also want to join in the word prompt, here are the simple rules:
1. Write about compassion
2. Write 100% original content
3. Write at least 600 words
4. Tag @JonicaBradley
5. Reflect and enjoy the expressive power of words.
I'm really grateful for @Bloghound for introducing me to noise.cash and read.cash. This had been a great help for me to earn additional income to help rebuild our home.
Thanks so much to my supporters both in noise and here. You have been such a great help.