Philippines Typhoon: Update from the Philippines YMCA

Date: 29 November 2013

The devastation made by typhoon Yolanda on November 9 which hit the central part of the Philippines particularly in Northern Visayas has brought a great loss of property and people. The messages of solidarity, concerns, comfort and support coming from our global YMCA Movement have been pouring even up to this time and we appreciate it so much.

On behalf of the YMCA of the Philippines, I want to thank you all for your emergency solidarity support and donations which enable us to respond to the need of our displaced and suffering brothers and sisters. Through our local YMCAs near that area we were able to extend emergency resources in Northern Cebu and in Ormoc City where our YMCA Village was among those affected as well as in a small island of Concepcion, Iloilo. Few days after the typhoon, we had initial support to buy provisions and provide basic necessities such as food, water, shelter and non-food items and these were distributed in the identified areas.

In Cebu YMCA, some 80 evacuees who survived the damaged in Tacloban City, and other affected neighbouring places sought temporary shelter and were provided with food provisions, clothing and medication.

The first group of evacuees that was received by the YMCA three days following after the typhoon first requested for food to eat. One of the evacuees said that they might have survived the typhoon, but will not survive without eating. The evacuees who were injured during the disaster also received medical attention from medical personnel who set up in the YMCA lobby and conference room. Every weekend the YMCA is also committed to provide breakfast of hot porridge to hundreds of evacuees sheltered in government evacuation center. In the previous weekend clothing to children and adults and duffle bags to families were distributed to keep their belongings.

The Y relief efforts also made its way to Northern Cebu to distribute relief and dry rations to severely affected families in municipalities hit hard by the typhoon. Food packs were given directly to children and youth, and to families in small, ravaged villages that have hardly been reached with relief.

In the small island of Tambaliza, Concepcion, the local YMCA in Iloilo coordinated in distributing the initial relief food supplies to 643 displaced families.

Lately, the YMCA relief group left Cebu for Leyte by ferry boat to distribute the second wave of food assistance to 8 identified villages in Ormoc City. Upon arrival, the Ormoc YMCA was already crowded with the survivors where some of them helped in unloading the packages. The distribution of food packs and clothing were done the whole day covering four villages in the morning and four in the afternoon. Nine tents were also installed near the Ormoc YMCA as temporary shelter for the displaced individuals and families while canvass were distributed as temporary roofing for destroyed roofing of small shanties for 40 other families. Many families not served also clamoured to be supported and given.

As part of the relief efforts group, I had witnessed how the aftermath of the typhoon had affected the lives of many people. Seeing the destroyed houses, structures and farmlands totally being damaged, one would weep in silence helpless of not being able to do much. It was also heartbreaking and difficult to see children, youth and aging people lining up on the street begging for food and water. In one of the encounters we had, along the road we stopped on a boy holding a placard with a message “we need help” and gave him a pack of dry ration. Seeing him with a big smile as he thanked us made me emotional but was happy for having touched the life of this young boy.

On the ground, we will continue to provide the needed support to these communities and individuals. Among of those we plan to do in coordination with the local staff and volunteers and government agencies are: > Provide relief goods and conduct stress debriefing within three months

> Prepare and organize the target community for possible rehabilitation
    program within a period of three years on critical areas:
    a) livelihood program
    b) shelter rehabilitation
    c) disaster preparedness training

> Help evacuees and survivors particularly children and youth cope with the
   trauma by giving them access to Y programs and services in an effort
   begin restoring a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Aside from the two local coordinating YMCAs, various local YMCAs in the Philippines are also helping us in the relief and rehabilitation efforts by sharing their resources. The Disaster Task Force created by the National Board has laid the general direction and plans based from the needs of the affected communities as well as monitoring the process.

Words are not enough to express our gratitude for the solidarity you have extended us.

May the good Lord continue to bless and keep us all safe.

Mabuhay!

PABLITO A. TABUCOL
National General Secretary
YMCA of the Philippines