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New life and hope in the Philippines

by Us (formerly USPG)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore the transition from grief and despair to joy and hope at Easter and in the Philippines’ recovery after Typhoon Haiyan.

Preparation and materials

  • Familiarize yourself with the story of Mary’s encounter with the risen Jesus in John 20.11–18 and have a version you can say or read out.
  • Gather some images of the devastation left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, plus one of a world map to show where the Philippines are, and have the means to display these during the assembly (optional).
  • Additional facts and figures about the typhoon can be found at: You can also find out more about the work of Us in the Philippines at:
  • For older groups, you could add a step after Step 5 in the ‘Assembly’ and talk about how communities in the northern Philippines, which had previously been helped to develop food sustainability with the support of Us and the Episcopal Church, are now transformed from recipients of support into givers of support. Out of their surplus, they have been able to send food and supplies to those communities hardest hit in the central Philippines. More information can be found at:  


1. Tell or read out the first half of the story of Mary by the tomb (John 20.11–15).

2. Explain that Mary had hoped Jesus was the Messiah – the person many prophets had said God would send to save the Jewish people. Now that he had been crucified and buried, it seemed all her hopes and dreams had fallen to pieces. Ask, ‘Can you imagine how that might have felt?’

Then ask the students if they have ever had a time when they felt as if everything they had hoped for or believed in had been destroyed.

3. Go on to ask the students if they remember a terrible typhoon hitting the Philippines at the end of 2013.

Remind them that a’ typhoon’ is a huge tropical storm, with incredibly strong winds and surges of water washing on to the land, damaging or destroying everything in its path.

Typhoon Haiyan, as it was called, was one of the strongest typhoons ever. It was so big that over 11 million people were affected. Over 130,000 homes were destroyed, leaving half a million people without anywhere to live and 2.5 million people in need of food aid.

It destroyed people’s homes and businesses, their fishing boats (which is how many people in the areas affected feed their families) and their hopes and dreams for the future.

If using, display the images of the destruction and the map.

4. Returning to Mary in the garden, can you remember what happened to her?

Tell or read out the rest of the story of Mary at the tomb (John 20.16–18).

Out of her grief, new life appeared. How would that feel? Amazing? Exciting? A relief? Although everything seemed dark and desperate, there was an incredible and unexpected gift of new life.

5. Although the typhoon was over a year ago, people are still rebuilding and new life and hope are appearing out of those scenes of disaster. Things are changing for the better. New homes and boats for the fishing communities are being built and people are starting to live normal lives again.

Add step here, if using, for older students. 

6. All these positive developments are still a lot slower than the bringing of new life we saw in Mary’s story. Many families are still without a home, but they know that there is hope and new life after disaster.

There is a way we can help! It only costs £875 to help one family build a new home  . . .  just £145 could help build a new fishing boat, which will help feed 12 people. As a school, perhaps we could work to support these families and help ensure that hope replaces despair.

Time for reflection

Think about times when you have felt hopelessness or despair.

When we look back, what good things have happened since, or because of, that time?

How can we help to bring hope and new life to others who may be going through difficult times?


Dear Lord,
We pray for protection for the people of the Philippines – a nation that faces up to 20 tropical storms a year.
We ask you to help all survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Support them, we pray, as they rebuild their lives.


‘All in an Easter garden’ (Come and Praise, 130)

Publication date: April 2015   (Vol.17 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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