The aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) has left the middle part of my country in ruins as time slowly passes by we have to rely on donations coming from Philippine and International aid. Filipinos are known for being able to withstand any calamities that surpasses our way as we are very much used to it, whether it is typhoon, earthquakes or flooding, we can handle it. However, this typhoon classified as Category 3 made it even more difficult for us to survive and recuperate by merely our own means.
Lately, I’ve been receiving messages from my friends living in different countries asking how my family and I are doing and some of them even offered further assistance and moral support as well as prayers for other Filipinos. It’s very heart warming and touching to know that these people I’ve met in my life during my travels would extend such goodness to people living across the continent.
One of my Filipino-Mexican friend whom I’ve met during the time I lived in Colombia also contacted me if I can feature several friends of his who have whole-heartedly wanted to donate to the victims of the typhoon in my country.
So yes, here are our friends who are currently devoting some of their time to help our fellow Filipinos and expats in the Visayas region wherein the provinces of Tacloban, Samar, Capiz, Antique, Leyte and IloIlo were affected by the typhoon.
Meet Vincent Roobeek from Holland
Vincent Roobeek was able to raise thousands of euros from his country and flew to the Philippines recently to personally donate the goods such as food and drinks to the refugees in Cebu. In 2012 he spent his holidays in my country and fell in love with Philippines so he kept coming back as he gravitated towards to charm of the “Pearl of the Orient” in Southeast Asia.
Since he already has an organization in the Netherlands called Rotaract Alkmaar, it was an easier way for him to seek donations and so far, they have almost Php 600,000 in merely five days. This propelled him and his friends to have means to finally help through DSWD and local friends by buying food, shelter, toys, boat tickets and other basic necessities for the Filipinos affected by the typhoon.
“Filipinos are mentally very strong, but I still hope the government will help victims financially and with goods for their homes, but I think that children need psychiatrists as well. I hope that all the money from all over the world is going straight to victims to help them build new houses and help them to start their new lives,” said Vincent.
He had the opportunity to visit different countries and basing from his experiences in Philippines, people he met here were “so thankful, so friendly, and although great tragedy befell upon them, they always have time for jokes and a smile.”
He has deep respect for the Filipino women since most of the volunteers in the Visayas region are women and Vincent feels that these Filipino women will make sure that the 7,107 islands will rise on their own two feet once again despite the devastating calamity that hit the country.
Meet Elissa Brinkman from Australia
Elissa Brinckman recently vacationed in Philippines before the typhoon Haiyan hit the country and she was amazed by the positive spirit of the Filipino people as well as having such “kind and generous hearts and their warm and welcoming nature. The people are amongst the most beautiful I have encountered in my extensive travels over the years.”
She began collecting donations from her country by gathering clothes, shoes, towels, linen and toys. Many were kind hearted enough to share some of their blessings to those people who are in dire need of basic necessities.
Although it wasn’t easy at first to send the donations via courier, non-profit organizations and such but accidentally she miraculously received an email from a local member of the parliament in her city who also arranged a shipping container and invited more people to donate goods so they can send them to Philippines immediately.
Elissa also raised more than $1000 and is still currently hoping for more to be sent to a good friend in Coron as her friend’s mission is to purchase food, medicine and other necessities for those victims affected in Coron, Palawan.
“With our help. I hope that the aide continues to be provided to those who need it until their villages and livelihoods are rebuilt and adequate medical aide is given to all who need it. I also hope that the spirit I saw the Filipino people when I visited recently is what will help them recover. They will no doubt be very supportive of one another and band together to rebuilt their communities and their lives. The loss of so many lives is obviously the worst part … I wish I could say how they could recover from losing so many loved ones, but sadly I can’t,” said Elissa.
She furthermore sent a message for the Filipinos to not “lose that spirit, don’t lose sight of the mission to rebuild, stay strong, support each other and remain the amazing people that you are. We are here for you!”