Haiyan Aftermath: How Are You Called To Help? (Plus, People Who Bravely Heeded the Call)

Tomorrow it will be a month since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) wrought destruction in Leyte and some areas in Visayas. After the initial shock and aftermath, I believe survivors still need help not just for relief, but also recovery and rebuilding. 

This month has made Yolanda really sink into my consciousness after the shock and has also helped me reflect on what more can I do. Certainly, rebuilding after all the destruction can take time; I heard it will be years.

I would like to invite you to ask yourself, if you haven’t already, how you are called to help.

To some of my friends and people in my networks, this means giving up on comforts, luxury and trips in order to donate. To others it means giving themselves – their time, talents and skills. The latter is what I want to do more of.

I would like to share what some of my friends have been doing for Haiyan efforts. Perhaps reading this will inspire you like they inspired me too. Or perhaps you would like to support them in their work:

Friends have been volunteering in relief operations for survivors both in Manila (mostly Villamor Airbase) and Visayas. Their dedication and persistence to push on for days – and some, even weeks – is admirable.

A friend whose home was badly damaged by Haiyan even had the time to volunteer and assess the situation and the needs of his community in Ormoc.

community survey and assessment for rehabilitation, Ormoc, Leyte, Typhoon Haiyan, YolandaAssessing the destruction in Ormoc  | Photo credit: One Year in Mission SSD

Most of my friends in relief operations have already had experience in relief operations through their work or regular volunteer experiences.

If you want to give your time to relief operations, find out what they need and what skills you can contribute. An experienced volunteer revealed to me that while some are very eager to volunteer, they do not have the skills or the mental toughness, and they can sometimes even hinder relief operations. Another friend said she will not volunteer on the ground because she is well-aware of her weaknesses. So find out first what the relief operations would need and reflect if you are really up to the challenge.

But you need not volunteer on the ground to contribute. I have great respect and admiration for friends who have put their talents and skills to use for Yolanda relief and rehabilitation.

For example, a baker who creates beautiful and sweet treats decided to share her talents by donating her profits for Yolanda relief. If you happen to have some time tomorrow, do stop by her bake sale. My favorite – and I believe one of the bestsellers – among her creations is her fudgy, gooey brownies. (Update: Bake sale already finished but you can contact them for your orders).

bake sale fundraising typhoon haiyan yolanda reliefCheck our these and other desserts at PhoebeCakes – Cakes With A Mission.

Similarly, TravelYoung, a travel group which organizes tours for the young and young at heart, have been organizing travels with a cause, whose profits will also be donated for Yolanda relief operations. Here’s one below you might want to check out:

Travel Boracay, CDO, Bukidnon, Davao, for a cause by Travel Young, Yolanda, Haiyan fundraising

Poster credit: TravelYoung

Yolanda efforts need not just be about fundraising, though. A friend who passionately designs T-shirts in Roxas City, Capiz (and whose designs you can see in Roxas’ souvenir stalls) designed shirts to uplift the morale of survivors, volunteers, and all affected  by the typhoon. He designed #BangonCapiznon for his community and #BangonVisayas for the typhoon-hit areas. He gives free shirts to volunteers. If you are interested, you can find this and his other “Bangon” (get up/rise) designs at the Facebook page Brgy.Tshirt – Proud Capiznon.

Bangon Visayas shirt for Yolanda or Haiyan relief groups and volunteers

But, survivors’ and volunteers’ morale is not the only thing that needs lifting up. Yolanda’s destruction has brought about stress and possibly long-term trauma to its survivors. Friends who are healers and counselors hope to address this by debriefing survivors and volunteers alike.

And, it’s not just a one-time debriefing while the tragedy is still fresh. Ginhawa, a small NGO, holds deeper, more intensive debriefings even months after the typhoon. In these debriefings, survivors are guided through awareness (and possibly seeing the typhoon through new eyes), acceptance, and moving on.

This kind of work, hopefully, is what I will be part of in the coming months.

Biyaya ng Buhay, debriefing of survivors after Typhoon Ketsana, Ondoy, model for Haiyan, YolandaGinhawa held debriefings for Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) survivors. If you want to know more about these debriefings and Ginhawa in general, e-mail ginhawa@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, friends who are environment-conscious and aim to live sustainably are redefining the very framework of relief operations through their project Green Releaf. Their belief is that relief operations need not be harmful to the environment and can be made for the nourishment and well-being of those affected by the typhoon.

They prepare healthy, nutrient-rich food for relief operations, discourage the use of plastic in packing relief goods, among other things. They are also teaching green relief to communities who are willing to adopt this shift.

eco-friendly relief goods, raw green pancakes, Green Releaf sustainable relief and response to Typhoon HaiyanHealthy living – and yummy! – pancakes for Yolanda survivors

Photo credit: Green Releaf

And, they do not just do relief but are thinking long-term. They are also training communities on how to plant sustainable “food forests” that will be their food source every day and amid natural disasters.

Green Releaf sustainable relief and response to Typhoon HaiyanFind out more and see how you can help at greenreleaf.org

I believe what made my friends’ efforts have all the more impact is that they are making use of their gifts – their skills, talents, and passions – to help. And so, if you are called to help in Haiyan relief and rebuilding, what gifts do you feel can you share to the world?

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