PHILIPPINES: Salesian Missions Supports Programs to Help 200,000 Families Affected by Typhoon
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions is supporting programs in the Philippines targeted to assist 200,000 families in the aftermath of the super typhoon. Salesian missionaries were already working with vulnerable children and their families through their schools, youth centers and other community programs—making them immediately on the front lines of the relief efforts.
According to the United Nations, the disaster killed thousands of people and affected more than 13 million overall. An estimated one million homes have been destroyed, leaving 4 million homeless. Among those who have been displaced, at least 2.5 million are in need of food assistance.
More than 5 million of those affected are children, with some 1.5 million children at risk of acute malnutrition, according to the UN World Food Program.
A network of Salesian NGOS is among about 25 international humanitarian agencies operating in Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit areas. Two locations where Salesian programs operate were in the direct path of the typhoon—in Borongan and Panay Island. No communication has been possible since the storm struck.
Operations in Manila and Cebu City were able to maintain lines of communication and join in the national drive for relief efforts—designating their centers as drop-off and volunteer locations for gathering and packaging relief supplies.
Salesian buildings in Cebu were named Official Help Centers and work began immediately after the typhoon struck. Students, teachers, staff, and volunteers worked alongside missionaries to collect, prepare and pack relief goods. In cooperation with the National Crisis Management Unit in the Philippines, 25,000 emergency kits were distributed in the days immediately following the storm.
The Salesians have also been able to assist with logistics—identified by many aid experts as the not only a top need, but the biggest challenge.
“Because we have been working in the Philippines since 1950 and already have an established network in the affected areas, we are able to provide vital coordination and infrastructure support,” said Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the international Salesians of Don Bosco.
With established partnerships with local broadcasting companies, the Salesians were able to get out word immediately to those who wanted to help—providing instructions for items needed and where to bring them. Goods began to come in almost immediately and more than 200 volunteers arrived to assist.
With experience working with the military to safely receive and transport in relief supplies and transporting them to those in need, the Salesians in the Philippines are providing crucial disaster relief support and coordination.
Thanks to these efforts, peaceful and efficient aid delivery is taking place, helping those in need.
Through a partnership between Salesian Missions and Stop Hunger Now, a shipment of rice-meals and medical supplies is on its way. Working with World Futbol Project, 6,000 indestructible balls have been received in Cebu, and the Salesians are working to distribute them to children affected by the devastating typhoon. Letting the children know someone cares for them and giving them a chance to play and “be kids” lessens stress during traumatic events, explains Fr. Mark adding that the Salesians specialize in this type of work all around the globe.
On Cebu Island, some Salesian schools were used as emergency shelters during the typhoon’s furry. Along Cebu’s east coast, the sisters sheltered about 800 people for two days at the Mary Help of Christians School, cooking hot meals and providing consolation. There is heavy damage to the children’s home and youth center, which were refuge to vulnerable children even before the storm.
At the St. Mary Mazzarello School in Negros Occidental, trees were uprooted, electric poles knocked down, and the library roof was stripped away. At Mary Help of Christians School on Mindoro Island, the roof of the boys’ dormitory was blown away, trees were uprooted and additional damage is being assessed. Restoration and rebuilding efforts throughout the Philippines will be needed long-term.
Headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, Salesian Missions has launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for the Philippines disaster relief operations in addition to providing staff support for sourcing and purchasing necessary goods. Among the supplies identified as most in need are ready-to-eat food, water filters, tents, medicines, bandages and disinfectants. To give to the effort, go to www.salesianmissions.org/typhoon.