Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2013 Contents In responding to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in
the Eastern Visayas islands of Samar and Leyte in the
Philippines, the focus has been on the needs of the
poorest of the poor, writes Tracey Edstein.
'Super Typhoon' Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever
to make landfall, has caused widespread devastation in
the Philippines and significant damage in Vietnam and
China. Over 12 million people continue to need relief. The
Church's international aid agency, Caritas, along with its
network and other humanitarian agencies, has responded
to the disaster, quickly mobilising to address emergency
needs such as shelter, food, clean water, sanitation,
hygiene and household relief.
Caritas Australia's International Programs Manager, Jamie
Davies, spoke from the Philippines. "Our team has located
the poorest barangays [villages] along the coast of Ormoc
which have been left with absolutely nothing. The need for
shelter and basic essentials is urgent," said Ms Davies.
"Tarpaulins, hygiene kits and other household items have
come by boat and are being stored in the Catholic school
gymnasium in Ormoc for distribution to more than 4,000
families," explained Ms Davies. Along with the tarps,
affected families have received tools to construct shelters
using materials salvaged from the storm's wreckage. In
Palo, 15km south of the Province capital city of badly
affected Tacloban, Caritas has set up an office in a
Catholic cathedral where shelter, water, hygiene and
cooking kits can be distributed. It is also serving as a
refuge for homeless families.
Archbishop of Palo, John Du, said, "When you stand
on the hill at my place in Palo, you look down and what
you see is like a valley of death, as if a bomb has been
dropped. Almost everything is destroyed. In spite of that
we are still hopeful, we will rise from this ordeal, because
of the support of our neighbouring dioceses, provinces
The Caritas network, the second largest humanitarian
network in the world, is co-ordinating with the Philippines
Government, the United Nations and other humanitarian
groups, focusing its emergency response on the most
basic of needs.
"We have worked through, and with, the Catholic Church
in the Philippines for decades. Our presence, partnerships,
solidarity and co-ordination help us access the most
affected people through diocesan staff," said Jamie Davies.
"Caritas has a commitment to 'build back better' and to help
these vulnerable communities prepare for future disasters
and minimise the risks. We will stand in solidarity with the
Filipino community before, during and after the headlines."
Caritas Australia, Humanitarian Emergencies Group
Leader, Melville Fernandez, said "Through our extensive
network we are working hard to ensure that families have
access to clean water and food, as well as shelter. The
devastation Caritas is seeing on the ground is comparable
in scale to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami."
Bishop Bill Wright of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has
launched an appeal and parishes, schools and individuals
have responded generously.
Students at St Pius X High School, Adamstown, acted
quickly, raising a thousand dollars. Their efforts support
Caritas and remind students that we live in a global village.
Year 10 student, Harrison Gresham, handed over his pay
packet from his part-time job, quoting his teacher who had
urged students to "give until it hurts".
Pastoral Care Worker at St Pius X, Bronwyn Melville, who
co-ordinated the "Vinnies" fundraiser, said, "If this effort is
indicative of the social justice ideals of our students, we're
in a good place."
Year 7 student and Vinnies member, Lachlan Galli,
summed up the situation: "It's the loss of everything;
family, land, possessions...it's hard for us to understand
how that feels."
Donations to Caritas have topped $2.5m. You can
donate by cheque to Caritas Australia, 24-32 O'Riordan
St, Alexandria 2015 or to the Catholic Development
Fund, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West 2302. Donate
online at www.caritas.org.au. Donations over $2.00 are
"We will rise from
Photo courtesy of Kent Truog, Catholic Relief Services.
(l-r) Zac Jarrott, Harrison Gresham, Emily Whelan,
Lachlan Galli, Clare Melville and teacher Bronwyn Melville
contemplating the impact of the typhoon.
Come in and meet our team!
Visit us at our brand new office in the Hilltop Plaza Mall,
Charlestown and see how our staff can assist you or
your loved one today!
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BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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