By Linda Unger*
DASMARINAS, Philippines —Volunteers and staff of the United Methodist Committee on Relief loaded a cargo truck with bright yellow bags filled with relief goods this evening, and are now ready to begin a 26-hour trek to typhoon-stricken communities in the central Philippines.
The volunteers, mainly Filipino university and seminary students, spent two days making food packages filled with rice, oil, salt, brown sugar, mongo beans (a versatile lentil), sardines, cooking oil, and coffee for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on Nov. 8.
Enough bags were filled to provide 1,500 families (or a total of 7,500 persons) with food staples to last about a week. Survivors of the category 5 super storm will also receive water purification tablets.
The 42-foot, 10-wheel wing van will be part of a caravan of three UMCOR vehicles carrying the vital supplies, UMCOR staff, and a handful of the dozens of volunteers who showed up at the UMCOR Philippines office here to load the truck.
The caravan will leave this evening on its long trek from the UMCOR Philippines office here in the northern part of the country and will travel along the archipelago, through about 10 provinces, to reach survivors in the hard-hit city of Tacloban in Leyte Province. The ride will include a four-hour ferry trip between provinces.
“Thanks to the generous outpouring of United Methodists, this is just the first of several shipments UMCOR anticipates making to assist the survivors,” said the Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR assistant general secretary for International Disaster Relief, who traveled from New York headquarters last week and will ride with the caravan.
UMCOR has already granted a total of more than $180,000 US to its field operations in the Philippines to provide both fast relief assistance and long-term recovery and rehabilitation aid. Recovery is expected to take years, as the devastation provoked by the storm was great and widespread.
Typhoon Haiyan destroyed more than 250,000 homes and impacted more than 11 million people across 44 provinces. At least 3,500 people were killed in the super storm known locally as Yolanda.
“Rebuilding will take years,” Amick said. “We will move forward with the Filipino people, counting on God’s grace and the support of United Methodists and people of goodwill everywhere.”
Please continue to pray for Typhoon Haiyan survivors and for the UMCOR caravan making its way to them. Your generous gifts to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450, will help UMCOR respond now and over the coming years.
*Linda Unger is senior writer for the General Board of Global Ministries.