(Photo courtesy Dave Nichols)
Four months later, you aren’t hearing much (if anything) about it, but temporary shelter and permanent homes are still needed for typhoon victims in the Philippines, according to an update this past week from the United Nations. Those helping with the former include West Seattleite Dave Nichols, at left in the photo above. He works with a disaster-relief nonprofit called ShelterBox, as noted here in this November report. Since then, Dave has gone to the Philippines to help, and after he returned home, he resumed making presentations everywhere he can get someone to listen. He tells this story, to make sure you and others are still aware that help is needed:
I am an American who volunteers for a British disaster relief agency called ShelterBox. Our goal is to deploy aid in the form of a box containing a fairly large tent, blankets and ground cover, cooking utensils, Mosquito nets and a family water purification. We do this fairly quickly thanks to the generosity of our donors. Our two person teams of volunteers are typically on the ground doing assessments 48-72 hours following a disaster.
I returned from the Philippines, where a devastating typhoon wiped whole villages off the islands. It also killed north of 6,000 people. When did this happen? November 8th. There are 7010 islands in the Philippines many quite large, and the typhoon went right through the middle of these islands. My deployment started on January 10th, and I first went with a teammate to an island named Bohol, which was struck by a 7.4 earthquake in October flattening whole towns.
We had already provided aid there and my mate and I were going back to do followup and see if there was anyone else in need. Granted, you may not even remember it happening, but there were still people living under blue tarps. One of the first people we met was a 20-year-old single mother with a 1-month-old baby living literally under a blue tarp. After a long three days on Bohol in the city of Loon, we took the high-speed ferry back to Cebu.
The second incident I want to tell you about was in Ilibcao on Panay Island. This is where I put up my first tent for a beneficiary. We met an elderly lady (70’s) living with her 50+-year-old daughter, and they had been living in the back of a roadside stand, we placed their tent on a high spot overlooking the roadside stand and the rice paddies. When we finished and I showed them the tent and features, they both cried, and the younger one tried to give me a live chicken (It was the only one they had) – of course I refused it (what would TSA say?). Later that day I returned to the tent to check the work and make sure it was secure and put up correctly (we use local volunteers in team of 5-8 to put the tents up so we can move more quickly). After I checked all the ropes and stakes, I was walking back through the rice paddy to the road and passed the roadside stand; the old lady came out (slowly) and gave me a big hug and told me thank you repeatedly and shook my hand.
For two weeks that is how my days went. I know you care, but you don’t know it’s happening, that is why we have agencies like ShelterBox. By donating you can insure we have boxes ready to go and teams of volunteers ready to respond. Please visit our website shelterboxusa.org to learn more about us (we have been to 200+ disasters in 90 countries). Consider making a tax-deductible donation. If everyone in Seattle gave 100 dollars we could help a tremendous amount of people.
Here’s the newest update from ShelterBox’s website, just a few days ago.