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Heinz Kulüke SVD – University of San Carlos – 6000 Cebu City - Philippines
Via dei Verbiti 1 – 00154 Roma – ITALIA

Help for the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

Taking Stock of Good Deeds

n August 2014 I visited the disaster area as a consequence of the havoc brought about by typhoon Haiyan. Images of shocking dimensions of the typhoon passed through the media in Germany and worldwide. About 2 million people were affected by the typhoon, losing family members and properties. The emergency aid came in the form of food, drinking water, medical care, trauma work including the burial of the dead. With the aid of generous benefactors coupled with the coordinated efforts of an SVD Disaster Team (JPIC-IDC / JPIC) (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation - Integrated Development Center), the reconstruction work is progressing well.

Here is a balance of all the efforts, programs and activities on site in Leyte, on the island of Bantayan and Northern Cebu as of August 2014:

1) Emergency aid for families:
25,000 survival packs were distributed to families during the time of crisis. Many children and families participated in programs for the processing of trauma.

2) Construction of about 5,000 transitional houses:
It was decided that transitional houses are to be constructed so that the victims will not continue to live in tents or tarpaulins. In this way the lower costs of these houses will benefit a larger number of people who desperately need a proper roof over their heads. 5,000 of these transitional houses have already been built with the possibility of expanding these houses by the families themselves. The cost of a transitional house varies from 350 to 500 euros, depending on its size and construction materials. The idea of building a more permanent house ranging from 3000 euros would only cover few families.

3) Repair of damaged buildings and construction of new school buildings:
A total of 200 school buildings were damaged and are gradually being repaired and re-constructed. For many children classes continued after the disaster under tarpaulins. Two school buildings were completely re-built and commissioned at the beginning of the new school year in June. More school buildings will have to be repaired.

4) Help for children - school backpacks, school uniforms and shoes:
Many of the children especially those coming from poor families lost their school belongings. Therefore, it was necessary to help these children procure their school supplies. Well over 5,000 children have benefited from this program and their support will continue in the coming school year, at least until the families again have a steady income. Spending for a child in an elementary school amounts to about 50 euros per year. For the high school students it is about 90 euros.

5) Help with income generating activities:

  • 125 boats with motors were awarded to small-scale fishermen.
  • Tools and agricultural implements were distributed to 1,400 families.
  • Purchase of power saws and tools so people can help build their own homes.
  • Seedlings
  • Purchase of water buffalo and sheep as well as goats and pigs Some of the farmers have already harvested their rice crops.

6) Accounting of received funds:
The funds for all these projects were collected by the different Mission Offices of the Society of the Divine Word worldwide. The SVD Generalate in Rome monitors the allocation of funds to the Philippine SVD Southern Province through the statements from the Mission Offices. Implementation of the projects is carried out by the Development Office of the Divine Word on location in Cebu (JPIC-IDC / JPIC) (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation - Integrated Development Center).

7) Documentation:
See two video clips (the quality of the video clips on the enclosed DVD is better), a PowerPoint and photos.

(NB: This video clip speaks of 4,000 homes. Meanwhile there are already over 5,000 on Leyte, Bantayan and Cebu North.)

8) Evaluation of aid for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan:
The responsible coordinator for the development work of the Divine Word (JPIC) worldwide, the Japanese Father Daisuke Narui SVD will be in the Philippines from September 2014 to evaluate the various assistance programs of the Divine Word on site. This evaluation is necessary to prepare better in the future more extensively on disaster relief in the Philippines and around the world. Father Narui was traveling in many disaster areas in different countries before taking over this global JPIC coordination work for the SVD. His work for Caritas Japan included coordinating assistance for the victims of tsunamis in different Asian countries and aid for the victims of the nuclear reactor disaster in Japan.

Thanks for your life changing aid that made a difference in the lives of many people especially the children who continue to assure a brighter future for Leyte, Cebu and elsewhere. Because of the global network of the Divine Word Missionaries and the very generous donors the affected families of typhoon Haiyan know that they were not left alone in the midst of dire needs and desolation.

Special thanks also go to the agencies that helped in the rehabilitation of the Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban. Many medical devices have been destroyed during the typhoon and had to be replaced. The hospital is now fully operational again and can offer to the local people the necessary services they need. (Various devices such as MRI, CT-Scan and X-ray unit had to be replaced.)

On my visit today (August 4) I meet many of these people who have benefited from the assistance programs. About 300 children welcome me and want to say thank you for being able to go to school again. The head of the village community introduces me to a 30-year-old woman named Jocelyn. Jocelyn has lost her husband and two children during the typhoon. She shows me her new house, where she lives with her two remaining children. Jocelyn is deeply grateful for their new home and the assurance that her children can continue to go to school. Jocelyn sighed in relief: “Because of the love we receive now our life can go on”, she paused and looked at her children: “their lives can go on.”

All this help would not have been possible without the generous help of so many people. Especially in times of bitter hardship, global solidarity takes on a special meaning and gives new life to others... Thank you!

Heinz Kulüke
August 17, 2014