An appeal launched by the Good Samaritan Sisters to assist victims of super Typhoon Haiyan which ravaged the Central Philippines last month has raised more than $25,000.
These much-needed funds have been sent to the Good Samaritan Sisters in Bacolod City on Negros Island to support local relief and rebuilding efforts such as the purchase of food and clothing.
“We would like to thank all the communities and friends for all their generous donations and prayerful support,” said Filipina Sister Grace Marcelo.
Like so many people throughout the Philippines, the small community of Filipina, Japanese and Australian Good Samaritan Sisters have been doing what they can to help with relief efforts.
“Through the Provincial Social Welfare Disaster Office we have been volunteering to do packing of relief items,” said Sister Anne Dixon, who arrived in the Philippines from Melbourne earlier this year.
“These packs contained three kilograms of rice, two tins of sardines and two packets of noodles. Some 45,000 packs were delivered to the northern part of our island. We have also donated items of clothing.”
In the last two weeks, Anne and Grace travelled to Capiz on Panay Island, about 200 kilometres east of Bacolod, where many people, including members of Grace’s family, have lost their homes, crops and livelihoods.
“We bought, packed and delivered, with the help of the villagers, some 500 relief packs,” said Anne.
“In this area alone, some 90 per cent of the housing was destroyed and many crops of rice and bananas were destroyed also. This was a very emotional time for both of us, particularly for Grace, seeing her family home destroyed.
“It was also a bonding time for all the people who came together to help pack the goods. The resilience and faith of these people shone through, despite the torrential rain that persisted all night and morning!”
It’s been about two years since Grace last visited Capiz. She said it was “heartbreaking” to see her family home and home town devastated.
“I felt sorry for my families and all the families there. But having spent time with them, I admired their resilience and faith, and their trust that all shall be well.”
Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, struck the Central Philippines on November 8 and is the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history. Such is the scale of devastation that humanitarian relief workers on the ground have said it is reminiscent of the havoc wreaked by the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami. They also estimate the rebuilding process will take three to five years.
Having spent time assisting some of the people directly affected by Typhoon Haiyan, Grace and Anne “want to do more”.
“These people cannot afford to rebuild their houses, so they are living day-to-day hoping, praying and wishing,” said Anne.
“The absolute joy and relief that was evident on people’s faces when they came to collect their relief pack will remain with us. And we just have to hope and pray that the government and the overseas aid will reach these small villages so that these beautiful people can begin to rebuild their lives.”
So far donations to the Good Samaritan Sisters’ typhoon appeal have been used to purchase food items for relief packs and clothing.
“We have also donated money to the Catholic Social Action group and the Provincial Social Welfare Disaster Office. Both these groups seem to have a good grasp of the immediate needs,” said Anne.
“We are also planning to donate to the Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing in Tacloban who lost their school, convent and hospital.”