Typhoon Haiyan broke records, both meteorologically and personally. It formed in the Western Pacific on November 3, 2013. By the time the storm had run its course on November 11 it had devastated Pacific Island nations, among them the Philippines. At last count 5,670 people were dead, 25,233 were injured and some 1,761 people are still missing. Millions were left homeless. The airport in Tacloban on the island of Leyte was destroyed, further hampering relief efforts. Food, water, shelter and medical supplies are all needed. And Calgary is responding to that need.
The local Filipino community organized a Christmas Fund Raising Telethon, called the Pasko ng Pagbangon Telethon in the local language, and is expecting to raise $100,000 for that effort, far more than the $50,000 they were aiming for. Held at the Pacific Place Mall on December 1, the event lasted for five hours and donations are still coming in. In addition to cash, items such as blankets, linens, canned foods and hygiene kits are also being donated.
This telethon was the first of its kind in Canada for the victims of Haiyan. Provincial and local politicians got involved, including Councilor Sean Chu, Rick Fraser MLA and Ric McIver, Transportation Minister. Ottawa has agreed to match all donations. All funds are going directly to relief work in the Philippines. Some thirty Filipino organizations based in Calgary contributed to the effort. The effort goes beyond the Filipino community. For example, representatives of the Sikh community came in with $30,000 to contribute.
One experienced relief worker, Michael Dytynyshyn, who spent time helping in Haiti, is on his way to the Philippines to put his skills to the test. The Calgary native is slated to help with food distribution and other logistical tasks. His time in Haiti was spent as part of the response team known as Samaritan’s Purse and they are again playing a role in the recovery process. Michael’s duties there included dealing with customs and purchasing emergency supplies. Samaritan’s Purse is already on the ground in Cebu with a specially trained 27 member response team.
A Boeing 747 was sent ahead, packed to the gills with plastic sheeting to create emergency shelters for up to 12,500 families. Also on the way are blankets, mosquito nets, medical supplies, water filtration systems and water storage tanks able to accommodate thousands with safe drinking water. Prepackaged hygiene kits with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and detergent are also being shipped. A temporary hospital has been set up, staffed by Samaritan’s Purse medical personnel and volunteers. Essential medical equipment and supplies have been flown in.
Samaritan’s Purse has their disaster response down pat. They’ve been around for nearly 40 years, responding both within Canada and internationally. The group was onsite during the floods in southern Alberta last year and helped Japan after the earthquake and tsunami experienced in 2011.
If you’d like to donate, call 1 866 663 6500 or go to their website at SamaritansPurse.ca.