Nov 26, 2013

When it rains it pours and pours beyond measure

For a land which experiences typhoons frequently, nobody could have prepared themselves to face the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction.

When asked whether Care Channels (CC) needed to step in to help, the answer was a definite, resounding – yes.

Care Channels Manila partnered Please Pass the Bread (PPtB) and Operation Compassion (OC) to provide medical treatment and food distribution. They were advised not to go into Tacloban. Tacloban was considered not safe. There were shootings, lootings and convoys of relief supplies could not get to the people, godowns of rice were ransacked. The army had been called in.

So instead, a team of over 10 doctors and nurses, led by CC’s Dr Malyn Vilar were sent to Mayorga, the south of Tacloban City, Leyte Island.

 Screenshot taken from Google Maps

Mayorga has a population of about 16,000 and it is one of the poorest municipalities of Leyte. OC chose Mayorga because it has been unreached by relief supplies. The typhoon tore up the whole town leaving them with no water and electricity. Every single one of the residents was affected in one way or another with 4 deaths reported.

So far, in 3 days and in 3 different sites, Dr Malyn and her team served 1024 people.

As resources were scarce, Dr Malyn and her team were hosted by the Vice Governor of Southern Leyte, and his wife, the current Mayor of Sogod, Leyte. The team stayed in a hotel in Sogod which had its own electricity generator. The team travelled daily to Mayorga which was 1.5 hours away.

They were even given packed lunches but the team barely touched the food because the people of Mayorga queueing up to be treated had no food. The trauma of the typhoon affected all the residents – from the Mayor to local doctors. Dr Malyn and her team were so overwhelmed by people needing treatment that they hardly paused as they tried to complete their work before sunset. The medical team treated mostly physical wounds and trauma caused by the typhoon. People waited patiently for their turn. They understood that those who needed greater attention would have to be attended first.

Apart from providing medical treatment, OC and PPtB also addressed the need for food. Rice was distributed in Bonifacio.

A community kitchen was also built by OC and Times Square Church (New York) in a town next to Mayorga called MacArthur. The food was sourced from Cebu Island.

Dr Malyn and her team returned to Manila safely after 5 days. She is amazed by the team’s strength, joy and unity.

The people of Mayor and the people of Mayorga were grateful that their town was chosen by OC. Perhaps in their minds, the extent of Haiyan’s destruction was so obliterating that they just did not have any hope of recovery. The people’s thankfulness for Dr Malyn’s and the team’s presence and services showed that the people of Mayorga now know that they are not alone.

Dr Malyn and her team has decided to return to Mayorga on 27 Nov for another 5 days but this time the team will be partnering local doctors to help the people of Mayorga. We were taken aback by the team’s decision to return. This could only be attributed to the need to do so and their compassion to respond.

As Dr Malyn, her team of doctors and nurses and the workers of OC and PPtB continue to respond, CC and OC continue to seek resources to support recovery and the rebuilding of lives in Mayorga. Half of donated funds are to be channelled to food and medical treatment and the other half to the long-term development of the town such as rebuilding homes and generating livelihood programs. Once relief is done which would be approximately 4-6 months, the rebuilding of the people’s homes will begin with income generating projects.

Please donate generously to the people of Mayorga as we support them in bringing back their lives.

To donate, please write cheque to “Care Channels International Ltd” and send to 3 Pasir Panjang Hill, Singapore 118827. Please write ‘Mayorga’ behind the cheque.

Story by Wong Kah Wei

Empowering (PH), Holistic (PH), Philippines, Relief Efforts