Sunday, December 15, 2013

Getting relief supplies

December 16th, 2013
Getting relief supplies
On Tuesday December 10th I managed to find a van to drive the 100 km’s to Ormoc to find supplies for various families. The list of people in need was growing so I had to leave before we couldn’t find a vehicle large enough. Jenn and Ruchelle joined me and we left Tacloban about 7:00 am.
Ormoc is the town on the other side of Leyte and is the port for service to Cebu. It was heavily damaged by the typhoon but spared a lot of the storm surge. They are also close to Cebu so are able to get supplies faster than Tacloban. We heard that one of the large department stores was open so we headed there with a long list of requests.
It isn’t easy to buy things when the families are so large but here is a list of the people we helped, a total of 6 families and 44 people.
-          Jenn’s family, grandmother and niece (8 people)
-          Ruchelle’s family (3 people)
-          Cristina’s family (3 people)
-          Michael’s family (9 people)
-          The twin’s family (6 people)
-          Volunteer for the Visayans staff (9 people)
-          Bella and Gemma from MC and their kids (6 people)
The Volunteer for the Visayans staff spend all their time helping others so I went to the office and asked if there was anything they need. They serve meals to the children in the Barangay so I offered to buy a 50-kg sack of rice and also personal supplies for the 9 staff. The personal supplies included things like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, lotion and mosquito repellent.
We also bought a 50-kg sack of rice for Jenn’s, Ruchelle’s and Michael’s family. The sacks are large and not easy to move around so they were meant for large groups. I also bought 10-kg sacks for the Twins and Cristina’s family. The families and children at MC have rice provided.
We bought various supplies like vitamins, milk, juice, noodles, canned meats and large bottles of water. Included in the purchases were 17 sets of clothing for the kids along with 17 pairs of flip-flops, the shoe of choice for kids here in the Philippines. Here are a few photos of the purchases.
Food and supplies
I also bought back to schoolbags for Cristina’s children and of course a set of toy trucks for Michael.
Michael’s trucks
On Wednesday I hired Jenn’s father to deliver the goods to the families with a motorcycle taxi. It is a common means of transportation here for the shorter distances and side streets where Jeepneys do not drive. We used my room as a central storage place and then loaded up 3 times to make deliveries. Here is our transportation.
Delivery by motorcycle
The first stop was Michael’s and when Jenn saw him she yelled out his name and Michael almost started crying. He is very sensitive and shy and he had the same reaction the other day when I arrived to see him. We gave the food, clothing, flip-flops and vitamins to his mother and he wasn’t at all interested until I gave him his new trucks. He ran off to a corner with his roll of mentos and was perfectly content.
The next stop was the twins and we drove to the large elementary school to search out Angel and April and their family. When I was at MC their older brother Jerry Boy joined the twin girls. He was such a nice young boy and he used to come into the nursery and just stand by his younger sisters as they lay in bed. They wouldn’t talk but just kind of look at each other, probably wondering what they were doing in a strange place without their parents. When I visited here the last 2 days Jerry Boy wasn’t around but this time he showed up. He was standing right beside me and I looked at him without recognition. He has changed a lot in 2 years. When I finally called out his name he gave me a big smile and said “hi kuya Fred”, just like he used to do everyday. We gave them their supplies and I ensure the mother knew how to give the multi-vitamin syrup. When I left all 3 of the kids waved with a big smile so my day was complete.
The last stop was to Cristina’s family in Tabontabon and we made the hour drive to meet them. The mother suffers from asthma and I was able to find an inhaler in Ormoc so I was anxious to get that to her right away. I won’t be making a trip out there again so I bought the girls each a new dress and a bag with some school supplies. I gave the Shantel, the eldest girl a roll of mentos and she was so shy she hid in the bedroom. Samantha is the younger and had no problem accepting her candy and she gave us a smile and wave as we left.
On Thursday December 12th I moved in with the family who I lived with for 6 months when I was here in 2011. I received a call from Ruchelle who was staying out with her brother and sister-in-law in San Jose, the worst hit area of Tacloban. Her brother and his wife had to leave to visit her family so they asked if I could stay with Ruchelle and a neighbour’s girl, as they were scared to stay on their own. I left my valuables with my family and moved to the small temporary home and Ruchelle cooked a meal on an open fire and I stayed right at ground zero of the typhoon. Here is the house where I stayed.

Ruchelle’s home
The next day I moved back to stay with my family and will be here until December 26th and then go to Cebu. I want to see the house that is being built up in Bogo. I will return to Tacloban in early January after I get my new visa. I will fly to Cebu to avoid the 2.5-hour van ride and 2-hour ferry. The Tacloban airport is open despite almost being wiped out. Since there are no ticket offices open and no online services, you have to go to the airport and buy a ticket for either Cebu or Manila. Here is a photo of a Philippines airliner getting ready for takeoff.
Tacloban airport
On December 15th I was able to make contact with the last of the children I wanted to find. Angelina was at the Missionaries of Charity when I was there and her home was also in the hardest hit area. Angelina is a very bright girl and she returned to school in 2012 after being released from the orphanage to live with her sister and brother-in-law. She was the top student in her school last year and really loves to learn. A few days after the typhoon, Angelina and her family here were evacuated to Manila on a C-130 plane. They did not want to go but they thought they had no choice. She is now living in the northern island of the Philippines and wants to return to go to school that is scheduled to open on January 15th.
The people in her area have been set up in tents for now and will be relocated to another area north of the city in about 6 months. I told Angelina I would go and ensure their names are on the list to be relocated and then if she is provided a tent, can move back here with her family and attend school. I will have to help move her here back to Tacloban as they were evacuated with only the clothes on their back and no one in the family has a job. Here is a picture of Angelina with the twins.
This week I will be checking up on the twins and Michael’s family and also trying to get Angelina and her family back here to Tacloban. We are also looking into starting to rebuild Jennifer’s home.
I keep being told to make sure I thank all those who helped with donations and I will continue to show photos of where the money is being spent.

1 comment:

  1. Brenda_Schepper@kprdsb.caDecember 23, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Hi Fred -
    I'm so happy for you that all of the children and their families that you were looking for have survived. Thanks for your journal entries. This is beyond belief. Thank you Fred for sharing this information. I loved hearing about Jerry Boy saying,"hi kuya Fred?"
    I received a card from Angel House last week. I was so thrilled to see the photo of all the children of Angel House. On the back cover is a lovely photo of you with these orphans. But, they mistakenly called you 'Greg'. When I asked David Donaldson about this, his reply was "oops I guess I made a mistake but Fred often calls me Donald so I guess we're even!"
    Love, Brenda