After Yolanda: The International Community Responds to Philippines’ Call for Help

The Philippines is no stranger to natural disasters. Being an archipelagic country and a part of the Ring of Fire, the country has endured earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, lahar flows, landslides, flooding, crazy monsoon rains, and typhoons. Among these natural calamities, typhoons are the Philippines’ most frequent visitor. The country gets an average of 20-22 of them in one year. Some don’t make landfalls, while some are vicious and leave a trail of destruction and death behind – bitter souvenirs for the Filipinos to remember for a long time.

You can say that Filipinos are used to typhoons. We have suffered at their hands repeatedly. In fact, there have been a number of times when these merciless guests have made us drop to our knees and made us wonder if we’d ever be able to get back up again. But we did. Because there was no other choice but to stand up and move on.

Super Typhoon Yolanda's track

Super Typhoon Yolanda’s track

Very recently, however, one typhoon surpassed all the other typhoons that we’ve had before. Its international code name was Haiyan, the 24th typhoon to hit the country, and unfortunately, it’s not going to be the last one for the year. Known locally as Yolanda, this typhoon is said to be the greatest typhoon in the world that has ever made landfall in recorded history. It immediately entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at Storm Signal #4, the highest storm warning, on November 8 and completely left the PAR a couple of days after, leaving behind flattened buildings and houses, crushed telecommunication and transportation systems, and wrecked power grids. Yolanda has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more wounded, hungry, thirsty, and homeless. In total, it has affected millions of people. Visayas, the central part of the Philippines, which actually suffered a strong earthquake last October, has been utterly devastated.

infrared image of Yolanda's eye

infrared image of Yolanda’s eye c/o NASA

There are no words to describe how horrible this tragedy is. Everytime I listen to the news and see these reports and images of the aftermath, I am merely speechless. I CANNOT IMAGINE what the survivors are going through. I know the data, the facts, the figures, but they are overwhelming; my mind cannot comprehend the immensity of the destruction. It was “just a storm” and yet it looked like Visayas has been pounded by tsunamis. It is quite shocking. Seeing the survivors’ plight and hearing the people’s stories simply break my heart.

Many other hearts got broken, too not only here in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world. Many tragedies that have struck the Philippines have prompted other countries to offer assistance before, but I don’t think I have seen anything of this scale and magnitude. If there’s anything good to mention amidst this tremendous calamity, it would be that the help coming from the international community is equally so.

Below is the list of countries that have generously given their resources to help the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda as of November 16, 2013.

(For the full document please view this Philippine Government Matrix. The document is updated often.)

The amount is indeed staggering! That list only documents the aid coming from governments and big international organizations; however, there are still numerous private organizations that are helping as well, whose assistance are yet to be officially recognized.  Countless ordinary citizens whose names will not even likely enter official public records anymore are pooling their donations and rendering their service to help people whom they don’t even know.

As a Filipina, I am deeply touched and grateful to know that the whole world is behind my country, that millions of people care. It’s amazing to see that many countries from different corners of the world have been mobilized for a single reason. A huge misfortune may be upon the Philippines right now, but the kindness and generosity shown by the world at least give us a glimmer of hope.

(credit goes to the owner of the image)

(credit goes to the owner of the image)

In a Facebook post by the Philippine Red Cross last week appealing for volunteers and donations, it included this line: “It takes a nation to rebuild a nation.” Clearly, the appeal primarily targeted the Filipinos. But now, looking at the amount of support other nations have given to the Philippines, it seems like sometimes, it would take a slew of nations to rebuild just one.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

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