Monday, November 18, 2013

Pauline Response to Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines

       
Sisters in Tacloba
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.
Pauline Books & Media Center in Tacloba

            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.
         
 
Attending Mass at St. Nino
 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.

           
Joining relief efforts
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.
Sr. Melba, fsp

You can send help here: http://pauline.org/givehope

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