The Philippines – Like the news, the winds and rain that came with Super Typhoon Haiyan have let up. But the damage from the storm that slammed regions of the Philippines on 8 November 2013 remains on the mental and emotional front page for survivors.
One of the most intense tropical storms on record, Haiyan was 300 miles across when it hit land. Winds were recorded at up to 195 mph and water rose to 30 feet above sea level along coasts. According to published reports, the death toll is at least 6,000 and more than 11 million people are estimated to have been affected by the storm.
According to Regina Mondez, the congregations of the Integrated Mennonite Church of the Philippines (IMC) are sending donations and volunteers to Peacebuilders Community Inc. (PCBI), which is working closely with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
“We strongly believe this unity among the evangelical churches across the country is a more effective way in witnessing to our neighbors in the disaster-affected areas,” wrote Mondez, national coordinator of the IMC, a Mennonite World Conference member church. PCBI is led by Dann and Joji Pantoja, Mennonite Church Canada workers.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is partnering with PBCI to send relief to the city of Ormoc on Leyte Island. Ormoc is a neighbouring city to Tacloban in the hardest hit region. Food packages and non-food items, such as bath soap, detergent, towels, and pails for carrying water to improve sanitation and hygiene will be distributed in communities south of Tacloban.
MCC is also partnering with Church World Service (CWS) to build shelters for the many people living in tents or with family members.
CWS’s partners will work closely with community leaders to choose the recipients who are particularly vulnerable, such as families that have single parents, a family member with a disability or many children.
Construction will be done, in part, as a cash-for-work project by community people who are not receiving shelters but have no stable income. The work will be directed by skilled workers trained in disaster-resistant construction.
MCC donors gave more than $4.2 million (Canadian) in response to the disaster. Although MCC has not had long-term staff in the Philippines since 2005, one worker will be placed there for the next year to oversee MCC’s response.
MWC release, with releases from Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee
Dann Pantoja, second from left, and his team pray for the pastor of a local church. “His house was totally destroyed. His wife and children were hungry when we arrived. Many of his neighbors died. He cannot locate the families belonging to his congregation.” Photo by Daniel Byron ‘Bee’ Pantoja, from Peacebuilders Community Inc. web site.
A man is dwarfed by the scale of the disaster created by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Photo by John Chau, used by permission.