AS SOON as we touched down in the southern islands of the
Philippines, the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan was
shockingly clear. Debris from buildings and trees littered the
streets. Homes lay flat, as families picked through what remained
of their lives.
One in ten Filipinos was made homeless by the typhoon. More than
13 million people were affected across the country. Every
eating-place and petrol station we saw was closed; the pawn shops
were crowded; and many towns had no electricity. Yet there were no
signs of chaos or panic.
Throngs of people loaded up vans with desperately needed goods
in an effort to help one another. Generosity towards those in need
is an integral part of the Filipino culture.
For many, the problems are far greater than local resources can
cope with. Marilynn Accedemia, was a teacher. She told us that she
had lost five relatives and friends. They had been sheltering in a
room when a wave smashed through the windows, and the room began to
fill to the ceiling with mud.
Marilynn and two others survived by escaping through a hole in
the ceiling: "I pulled myself up by an electric cable to get
through the hole," she said, pointing to the hole.
Across the country, we metTearfund partners who were providing
food, blankets, mosquitonets, and other vital goods. Theyare
helping people to get cleanwater, access to lavatories, and
aresetting up a mobile health-centre.
Outwardly, things are returning to normal. But for millions,
recovery will take years.
Sudarshan Sathianathan is head of the Asia region for
Aid sent. People from churches, mosques, and
the local community gathered at St Barnabas's, in Walthamstow, in
east London on Sunday, to donate items for sending to the
Philippines. The next day, a 40-foot shipping container was
despatched with food, clothing, toys, and other items to assist in
The Filipino Priest-in-Charge of St Saviour's, Walthamstow, the
Revd Salvador Telen, members of whose family have been affected by
the typhoon, said: "I was touched to see so many donations,
including of money." The Salvation Army is expanding its efforts
among typhoon survivors. So far, almost 1000 family packs
containing food, water, and other essentials have been