Philippines Typhoon: Giving and Updates
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The North American Baptist Inc. is receiving donations that will go to directly help those who desperately need relief. For Canadian donations, the Canadian government is matching giving for Philippines Typhoon relief. NAB will notify the Canadian government upon receiving Canadian donations.
The funds coming into the NAB will be dispersed to three organizations:
- We are giving the first $5,000 to the Bicol Center for Christian Leadership, our NAB ministry in the Philippines. They are already gathering water, food, and supplies to take to regions that were hit much harder than theirs. They have direct contact with the evangelical churches, pastors and leaders in those areas, so the supplies will be dispersed by the evangelical community in those areas.
- The rest of the funds will be split between two other organizations. The first organization is through a contact from Gregg Evans, a former NAB missionary to the Philippines and our volunteer Philippines Field Director. Gregg has directed us to Baptist General Conference missionaries he is connected to in Tacloban - Paul and Margie Varberg. They will host a Manila-based team from Kids International Ministries (KIM) for the next 6 to 12 months. The team will provide twice-daily feeding and medical care. It'll be a small ministry, relative to the size of the disaster, but it's being conducted by people Gregg and Maria Evans know and trust. All donations will be used for food/medicines/equipment for the relief program.
- The second half of the split will be dispersed through the leadership of David Sobrepena, the pastor of the largest evangelical church (Word of Hope Family Christian Center) and network in the Philippines. Rob McCleland has a personal connection with Pastor Sobrepena and was with him in the Philippines in the last six months. This church will direct their efforts through the evangelical community in the Philippines. They are already organizing medical missions to work in those areas most devastated.
Please continue to pray for those suffering in the Philippines.
NEWS FROM GREGG EVANS
Dear NAB Office,
I suspect that you’ll be asked what’s going on in the Philippines, how our people and ministries have been affected, and what we can do. The following might at least allow you to respond a little:
After expecting a direct hit, Legazpi City was missed entirely by the typhoon. It ended up being just a normal day in Legazpi - overcast, rain, but no cyclone winds. In fact, barely a breath of wind. The typhoon’s killer winds stayed in the upper atmosphere over the Bicol Region and never descended. Traveling across the Pacific in a northwesterly direction, Haiyan hit Samar and Leyte islands first, which are southeast of Bicol. It was expected that the typhoon would continue to Legazpi about 175 miles northwest of Tacloban, but upon hitting land, the typhoon quit traveling northwesterly and headed directly west, starting at Tacloban where most of the news is coming from right now. Had Legazpi been hit, I can’t even imagine the turmoil. I would have gone there just to show support and attend as many funerals as possible.
For the purposes of news organizations, Tacloban is getting all of the coverage - it was the first major place hit, it is a big city, the devastation is extreme (a unique thing about Tacloban because of its geography is that it got hit by two storm surges, first from the south and then from the north), and access is relatively easy from Cebu or Manila - but there are dozens of islands with scores of towns and villages along the path of Haiyan that were wiped out. Eventually there will be reports of whole villages of 50, 100, 300 people just swept away. There will never be an accurate count of the dead because there wasn’t an accurate count of the living in a lot of these remote islands.
I’ve been watching Filipino news. The coverage has been good, but the misery has been hard to watch. It’s been just a few days, but without food or water, people are getting desperate. They are complaining that nothing is being done; rich people are being evacuated; promises have been made but no help has come; they’re sure that food and water are arriving but not being distributed. They’re waiting for help, but not much has come and only to a couple places. Those who would otherwise be coordinating relief distributions - Local Government Units, police, military - have all sustained huge losses themselves and cannot field sufficient personnel. Even if disaster-coordination units were intact, it is unlikely that they would know what to do in this situation - most got their jobs because their aunt knows the mayor (or something like that), not because they have any training in disaster relief, and even the best training wouldn’t prepare someone to respond effectively to what happened and is happening.
It’s a far bigger crisis than anyone is able to articulate and it is going to get bigger as the days go by. TV news shows food and water being distributed, but to how many people? Maybe a few hundred who happened to be near where a truck with relief goods happened to be. It isn’t as if there’s a coordinated, systematic distribution. Even in Tacloban itself - the place getting the most attention and assistance - there are large parts of the city where no officials and no aid workers have come. That’s MOST of Tacloban. Bodies are rotting in the streets and under rubble and no one knows what to do about them. Where do you take a corpse when there is no morgue, no cold storage? I’ve seen news footage of bodies being retrieved and loaded on trucks, so there’s definitely an attempt being made, but again, they’re barely making a dent. Most of Tacloban’s roads and streets aren’t even passable. The 6 mile stretch of road to the airport is the only road that has been cleared - and it is supposedly a couple hours to drive it. And that’s just Tacloban - there are dozens of other towns and villages that no cameras have been sent to, yet are reeling under similar conditions.
Our people and ministries in Bicol are just fine. They haven’t been ravaged by a super typhoon since November 2006, and for that I’m thankful. They are holding their District Meetings this coming weekend, business as usual.
Over the last 50 or 60 years, the BGC has had missionaries in Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Negros and other places in the hardest hit area. They might be a good source of information regarding how to respond.