Solidarity has no boundaries

November 22, 2013
by 
Ryan Worms, Deputy Director In-Canada Programs Department, reporting from the Philippines
Vilma and her children at a Caritas Cebu food distribution in San Remigio

“Solidarity is important to the Philippines,” said Trixie Suarez, headmistress of the Singapore School on Cebu, one of the islands badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.

“Our students and teachers organized a fundraiser so that in partnership with Caritas we can help people affected by this natural disaster,” she said.

Mrs. Suarez and fifteen students along with members of Caritas Cebu, the diocesan branch of Caritas Philippines-NASSA, distributed food and other aid items Tuesday to 3,650 survivors of the deadly storm in the north of Cebu.

They were shocked by the extent of the damage in San Remegio and Medellin towns. The roads are still littered with uprooted trees tangled with electric cables. The houses which aren’t completely destroyed, bear the marks of the extreme violence of the typhoon. Both the churches from where the aid was being distributed are damaged.

Incoming international aid is still faced with significant logistical challenges, creating delays in the distribution of goods needed by people. Food and material for temporary shelters are still lacking.

Crowds of hundreds of people quickly gathered to receive the food packages. Despite the urgent needs, the distributions were peaceful and the aid was warmly welcomed by the survivors of San Remegio and Medellin.

Vilma, a widow with her two young children, is a resident of San Remegio.

“Our house has no roof. We sleep outside, but fortunately we have a small terrace with a roof still intact. I had some reserves of rice so I’m not complaining,” she said.

Others need help more, she says as she introduces Thelma.

“This is Thelma. She has no home, food or clothing. She lost everything. She lives with her child and she is 8 months pregnant. She must be helped first, I can wait,” said Vilma. “This is Emma. She also must be helped immediately because she lost her home and she lives with her five young children.”

The solidarity of Filipinos towards one another is inspiring, and it is being felt here in Canada as well. As soon as the heavy losses caused by the storm became known, Filipino community organizations across Canada mobilized to organize fundraising activities for Development and Peace’s relief efforts. Their trust in our work to reach their loved ones makes us want to redouble our efforts all the more in bringing aid to those who need it most.

Give now to support relief efforts in the Philippines.