Filipinos helping Filipinos

The first week after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, a woman in my home parish said to me, “You know what really impresses me about the news coverage coming from the Philippines? It’s the way Filipinos are helping Filipinos. They just seem to be pitching in to help one another dig out, not waiting for someone else to do the job.” I wholeheartedly agreed, because PWRDF and The Anglican Church of Canada have had decades of partnership with churches and agencies in the Philippines, and we know the spirit which animates their work and witness.

You’ll want to read Floyd Lalwet’s First Report about the Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ response to Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) as you consider making a donation for typhoon relief to PWRDF, by the end of the day December 23 so that it can be matched by the Government of Canada. He offers the kind of information and confidence you need to know that your donation will be well spent.

Mr. Lalwet is the National Development Officer of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP). In his report he explains how Filipinos have rallied to the support of those devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and how the ECP both responded immediately through parishes and already existing projects, and is crafting a long-term recovery plan that gives dignity and agency to participants.

The ECP’s relief work has two distinguishing features: a] mobilization of foodstuff produced and processed by its communities; and, b] installation of solar lighting systems in evacuation and relief distribution centers.  Of the community food processing work, he explains:

Disaster food relief usually consists of rice, noodles and canned goods. For immediate and short term relief, these food items may be acceptable but for longer term operation, the effect of these foods on consumers’ health or nutrition becomes a serious issue. Hence, the ECP is mobilizing and using more healthful foods that are produced and processed by its communities, more specifically: vegetable noodles, packed vegetables, camote biscuits and insumix (an easy to cook mix of dried rice, legumes and fish). To be able to produce one to three tons of these food items to complete a truckload, however, involves the coordinated work of various communities and households working together and complementing each other ““ from mobilization of raw materials to actual processing. In fact, these food items constituted only a small portion of the first two truckloads as it took some time to scale up the food processing operations. These community-prepared and processed foods will however make up the bulk of relief goods starting with the second relief mission in mid-December and onwards.

He goes on to share some inspiring stories related to the un-affected communities’ efforts to be in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the devastated regions:

The Amtuagan Community Association has a soap-making enterprise established under the ECP’s Development Program in 2011. This is a small-scale venture owing to the community’s difficulty of access to bigger markets.  The road to the community from the town center is open only during dry months. Hence, the women make soap only during the months when they can then take passenger jeeps to bring the products either for sale at the provincial capital of Bangued or send them by bus to the Episcopal Church centers [in Bontoc, Baguio or Manila]. When requested to make herbal soap for Yolanda relief, the women did not hesitate to respond positively even if it meant manually carrying the soap products in a one-and-a-half-hour hike from the community to the town center as the road to the community is impassable for motor vehicles at this time. As of this writing, a total of 1,700 pieces of soap have been included in the hygiene kits [distributed in relief packages]”“ soaps that were manually transported, without any additional costs, on the shoulders of men and women of Amtuagan who felt it was the least they could do to help the suffering communities.

Click here  to read Mr. Lalwet’s report, and please click here to donate towards the relief efforts of PWRDF partners in the Philippines.

Adele Finney
Executive Director, PWRDF

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