Many thanks to all who donated (so far!) to our sisters' "Give Hope" project for the Philippines. Here's an update from our sisters on the ground; I hadn't even realized there had been a massive earthquake just two weeks before...
It has been a week since super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the
Philippines. It made multiple landfalls in different parts of the
country, causing much destruction to lives and properties, with the
massive devastation in the central part of the country, particularly
in Tacloban. This super typhoon came just two weeks after a 7.2
earthquake hit Bohol, also part of the Visayas. Bohol has ceased to
be in the news although it has not yet recovered from the devastation
that has so traumatized the people there.
This past week, most of
the attention has been focused on the massive destruction brought
about by typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban that has brought with it 315 kph
winds that pulverized many houses and buildings, and flooded the
whole city. The devastation goes beyond Tacloban, to its neighboring
provinces. Watching news updates every evening on television leaves
one speechless and in tears; there is so much misery, fear,
confusion, uncertainty, hunger, sadness, grief. Dead bodies are
everywhere; relief goods from both private and government sectors are
slow in coming so that there is so much unrest. One sees people
fleeing from that place, confused as to where to go, or how to start.
We, as Daughters of St.
Paul in the Philippines, also have our eyes on Tacloban because we
have a community there. For many days after the typhoon, we didn't
have any word from the Sisters, until finally, we received
information that they were safe. The media center suffered flooding,
so much so that the books were all destroyed. The equipment used for
the radio and TV programs were not also spared. But what is important
now is helping the typhoon victims rebuild their lives.
The Philippines has
experienced many typhoons, but this one was massive – too many
lives were lost and houses flattened to the ground or washed away.
Those who survived are now crying for food and water, not minding too
much that they have no more homes. And so, yes, we can pray for them,
but we believe that we must do something more concrete to address the
need of the moment.
It is this compulsion
that brings the Sisters to network with and to offer their services
to the different organizations that prepare relief goods for the
typhoon victims, such as Caritas-Manila, a Church-based organization
that reaches out to the poor and suffering, the Department of Social
Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Jesuit-run Simbahang Lingkod
ng Bayan among others. Many other religious Congregations troop to
these centers to help, joining many other individuals and groups. We
started our reach out beginning with our lay mission partners and
collaborators whose families have been adversely affected. We have
also been soliciting donations from friends from the different parts
of the world.
There is also a massive
exodus that is happening; people from Tacloban and the other
neighboring provinces that have been badly affected are leaving and
going someplace else. Many are walking on the streets like zombies,
traumatized by the wrath of the typhoon and the loss of loved ones
and livelihood. We have received and responded to an appeal from the
Manila Commission on Youth for volunteers to help in stress
debriefing because a huge number of survivors have reached Manila and
are in dire need of it. It is very timely that we have also organized
a seminar-workshop on basic skills training for crisis-trauma
counseling for ourselves and for other lay people this Sunday so that
after this, we can be deployed to respond to the pressing need of our
brothers and sisters to overcome their trauma. The help that they
need most is not merely to survive, but to rekindle once more in them
the hope that gives meaning to life. We believe that together with
generous and concerned people, we can respond to this need.
May the Lord, who can
never be outdone in generosity be their reward!