Volunteers & staff working with food items at Philippine Red Cross HQ in Manila, November 10th.
Hundreds of thousands of people lost everything in the super storm that raged through the Philippines last Friday. In many places the landscape was flattened, with whole communities cut off as roads were destroyed.
Over 11 million people have been affected, with unimaginable numbers of casualties. But amidst the destruction there are glimmers of hope, as aid is beginning to get through.
"Today World Vision distributed food, water and sanitation supplies to 900 families in northern Cebu. It was the first aid this community has been given since the Typhoon hit six days ago. It was a day of joy and relief for the 900 families,” explains World Vision New Zealand CEO, Chris Clarke.
We’ve been hearing incredible stories of volunteers working day and night to pack supplies and send them out on aeroplanes, ships and trucks to reach the thousands in desperate need.
“250 volunteers have been working since Sunday to pack aid kits in the offices of CAFOD partner Caritas Philippines in Manila,” explains Nick Harrop, CAFOD. “Most of them are young people from local church groups, working around the clock.”
People are desperate for food and water, so the packs contain enough supplies to last a family of five for three days. 2,000 packs have already reached the island of Leyte, where thousands are feared dead.
Many are living in fear that they have lost loved ones, but are unable to reach family members as communication lines are down. The Red Cross have been giving out satellite phones so that people can begin to trace missing relatives.
Alongside this, the Red Cross have been “distributing water, water tanks, thousands of ready-to-eat meals, medicine, shelter, blankets, generators and, inevitably, body bags,” says Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.
Every person has a horrific story to tell. The level of trauma is intense. Yet amidst the suffering, stories are beginning to filter through of individuals struggling to help each other, whilst caring for their families at the same time.
“I’m seeing people help their neighbours who have to go to hospitals, helping them find their loved ones. People are even helping each other repair roofs,” says Sandra Bulling, CARE International.
DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “The public’s reaction to the sheer devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan has been quite simply remarkable. We are so grateful for the huge volume of donations, which are vital to fund the work done by our member agencies’ emergency teams.”
All funds raised are being used on the ground in the Philippines to deliver food, water, household items and tarpaulins to those affected by the typhoon – but so much more is needed. While we are beginning to see aid get through to those that most need it, there is still a long way to go.