Typhoon Haiyan Relief work Medellin, Cebu Philippines
Survey of the Damage to Curva Elementary School and Medellin, Cebu Philippines
The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons and strong tropical storms, however, Super Typhoon Haifan (Yolanda in Philippines) was something which exceeded even the wildest imagination. The Super Typhoon slammed ashore early in the morning of November 8, 2013 packing winds in excess of 315 km/hr. These extreme winds along with strong storm surges caused significant loss of life and paths of destruction across the Philippines. By now, I am confident that many people have heard about the typhoon on the news and many you might have heard or watched advertisements from the Red Cross or other charity organizations seeking donations for relief.
My lense was created to reflect the experiences that I encountered first hand living and working here in the Philippines during the storm of the century. The weather channel and discovery have labeled this the strongest storm to ever hit land. I plan to show you some pictures of the devastation and some of our relief efforts and why we are working so hard to get more done.
You are probably wondering where is Medellin, Cebu and why would we focus our efforts on this city? Medellin, Cebu is a small town of about 50,000 people located on the very northern tip of Cebu, Philippines.
Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in Philippines)
Here are three videos to appreciate the size and strength of the storm.. The second video presents an interesting what if view if this storm were to have hit the US vs the Philippines.
Imagine what happens if this super storm hit the States??? WOW.
Where is Medellin, Cebu?
Medellin, is a small town of approximately 50,000 people located on the northern tip of the island of Cebu. The municipality of Medellin is one of the nine municipalities comprising the 4th Congressional District of Cebu Province. It is approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) north from Cebu City via Barangay Curva and 113 kilometres (70 mi) via barangay Luy-a. The town is bounded on the north by the municipality of DaanBantayan; on the south by the municipality of San Remigio and city of Bogo; on the east by the Camotes Sea and on the west by the TaÃ±on Strait.
It is about a 3 hour drive from Cebu City despite being only about 75 miles distance.
We specifically targeted working with Medellin, Cebu because all of the international attention and relief efforts have been focused on the City of Tacloban. This small town has been largely ignored by the media and relief agencies. The damage to the city was extreme with a reported 95% of all homes severely damaged or destroyed by the Typhoon.
I work for a call center company with an office in Cebu and we decided it was time to make a difference in a place where we could matter.
Medellin, Cebu Philippines after Typhoon Haifan (Yolanda) - Pictures of the destruction, Curva Elementary School and surrounding areaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Phase 1: Emergency Relief Shelters
Giving Shelter from driving rains and baking sun!! More than 300 families helped!
One of the most urgent needs following the super typhoon was shelter. Water and food aid were being distributed by helicopter and trucks but people had no were to escape the driving rains and baking sun. The temperature during the heat of the day was often in the high 90's with almost 100% humidity. Imagine not being able to get out from under the baking tropical sun for days at a time. In addition to the elements, mosquitoes were rampant and were having a buffet feasting on the survivors of the storm who had no place to go to escape them. People were using whatever they could find to try to patch together shelter, often this was just grass pulled from the fields.
I was very proud of my employees for pulling together to raise funds for immediate relief. Through employee donations and sacrifices, we were able to raise about 840,000 Php (about $19,500) to buy shelter materials for the town. We were able to create and deliver 310 kits featuring 4mx7m tarps, hammers, nails, duct tape, mosquito nets, and food, water, clothes and sanitary supplies.
This truly was all about being a team and making sacrifices to help those who could not help themselves. We met with the Town Mayor and Vice Mayor and were assigned a barangay (neighborhood) to distribute relief goods to. With a lot of luck and hard work, we were able to ensure all families in the brgy had shelter when we left. This actually totals more than 2700 people. Not bad for a small company outreach effort.
Phase 1 relief efforts, Medellin, Cebu - Shelter kits, food supplies, water and volunteers!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Raising the Morale of the children of Curva Elementary, Medellin, Cebu
Helping to give a break from the trauma to the children!
After our initial inspection, we were very aware of the scope of damage and trauma the super typhoon had on the people of Medellin. The children took the brunt of the trauma and were definitely feeling the stress following the storm and from seeing their homes and school destroyed.
Recognizing that one of the early intervention steps that can help children transition through trauma is to give them a mini vacation from the destruction, we organized a quick trip back up just to give the kids some drinks and snacks and a sense of hope that things will get better.
The children really were very happy and surprised as many had never before had a chance to taste simple things like koolaide or tang, and definitely enjoyed the experience as well as their packets of cookies. Many kids saved the cookies to take home and share with their families. It was a very touching day for my team as well as the students and teachers of Curva elementary.
This trip cemented our resolve to rebuild this school to be better than it was prior to the storm!!
Raising the morale of the Student at Curva Elementary, Medellin, Cebu - Hope and a snack go a long way to making the kids smile and laugh again!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Relief Phase 2, The Reconstruction of Curva Elementary School - Work in Progress
After providing for the immediate relief needs of food, shelter, mosquito nets and some water, we decided that we really wanted to help the children of Curva Elementary School. We met with the Principal and teachers of the school and listened to their passion. We met with the students and could really feel their desire to learn and hope to get back to normal life as soon as possible.
After we returned to Manila to regroup, we started to raise funds from our coworkers, friends, family and clients around the world. The cost to rebuild the 9 destroyed building at Curva Elementary School will cost approximately 10 Million Philippine Pesos, this equates to roughly $230,000 usd. Our fundraising internal to our company was able to raise an additional 2.5 million pesos on top of the 840,000 pesos we raised for phase 1 relief efforts. Our employees donated more than 1500 days of vacation and sick leaves to be converted to cash to help fund the rebuilding efforts.
We were able to form a partnership with two other organizations that will contribute the remainder of the required funds to complete the construction. We are currently in the process of obtaining all the permits required to start construction and build around the kids attending classes in the smashed rooms before under the sun and shade of tarps.
We will begin full scale construction in March 2014 and I will definitely post pictures for everyone of the new school coming up.
Thank you for taking the time to read this small lens. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to be able to help some people who had no one to turn to and also to provide hope to children in their worst hours of need. I hope sometime everyone can feel the same I do know.
It is extremely tiring but extremely rewarding as well.
Curva Elementary and Medellin, Cebu
Building the New Curva Elemenary School - At long last, we are almost done!!!Click thumbnail to view full-size
emergency food supplies suggestions
Here are some items that don't take much space but can save your life if you are ever unfortunate enough to suffer a severe storm and lose your food and water supply!