Natural Disasters Reconstruct the Self: A Thematic Analysis of Youth Survivors’ Narratives about Typhoon Haiyan
People can create vivid images about a natural disaster that has caused them pain and suffering. Just as people do this, natural disasters also have the capacity to reconstruct people’s sense of self. We discovered this through listening to the youth survivors of typhoon Haiyan and understanding their narratives about the disaster. This study attempted to answer two research questions: (1) How do the youth survivors view Haiyan? (2) How do these views reconstruct themselves? We used in-depth interviews to capture the survivors’ narratives and we utilised thematic analysis in analysing those narratives guided by grounded theory. We found that the youth respondents had created striking images about typhoon Haiyan. These include a wild beast or a Godzilla, Noah’s Ark, a bulldozer, a nuclear bomb and a thief which suggest a predominant idea: that Haiyan was catastrophic. Surprisingly, viewing Haiyan as twist of fate and blessing in disguise suggests that the youths were reflective of their own conditions. How did these images help in reconstructing themselves? Firstly, they helped the youth survivors in building a culture of self-education and sense of agency. Secondly, they helped them build a sense of resilience. Lastly, they enabled them to strengthen their faith.
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