Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On November 8th 2013, category 5 Super-Typhoon Haiyan bulldozed through central Philippines. Thousands are missing and hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the storm, their homes eradicated by the most ferocious storm to make landfall in any country ever.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has led our United Methodist response in the Philippines by providing a $97,000 grant. Those immediate funds were used to provide food, water and water purification tablets to 7,500 people. However that was just the beginning of our effort as an organized faith community.
Thousands of people are without relief: daily food, water, shelter and clothing. Relief distribution has been slow and disproportionate. Only select areas have been receiving aid. While it is true that the city of Tacloban was one of the hardest hit areas, it was not the only area devastated by the storm. Yet Tacloban is the only area receiving international attention and international relief.
UMCOR Philippines has partnered with BALSA Mindanao (Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan/People’s Cooperation for the People*) to provide comprehensive grassroots relief to underserved communities displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. Since 2012’s super-typhoon Bopha hit southern Philippines, UMCOR and BALSA have been providing funds, relief and skilled volunteers to aid, rehabilitate and rebuild hope for affected communities.
As a United Methodist Missionary serving in Mindanao, Philippines, I lived through two devastating typhoons (Washi & Bopha) and worked with BALSA alongside UMCOR to rebuild homes, lives, and hope for a better tomorrow. I cannot forget the sight of starving, hungry masses of people pressing the sides of roads holding signs that read “Hungry, Please Feed Me” with the wrecks of their homes and fields in the background. I cannot forget that for every family that receives relief goods by the side of the road and in cities, there are hundreds more in the countryside that are isolated, difficult to reach by debris blocking already poorly maintained roads– hundreds of people not receiving relief, not receiving food, not receiving water and not receiving hope. I cannot forget, I will always remember.
These are the underserved -the least of these- the forgotten victims to whom UMCOR, through BALSA, are serving as I write this. Many more generous hearts and funds are needed to respond to the extreme devastation and aid in the survival of our brothers and sisters.
I have donated through UMCOR and invite you to join me. I invite your church to take up a special offering through Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. You can support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work by donating (either online or through your church) to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450. 100% of your gift will be used to help those in need in the Philippines.
You can find updates, find ways to get involved in your area and also donate on the web through Taskforce Haiyan (taskforcehaiyan.org), a grassroots network of organizations, businesses, churches, institutions, groups, and concerned individuals in the US who are moved by compassion to extend support and solidarity to the peoples and communities of the devastated areas of the Philippines affected by super typhoon Haiyan.
Please give generously yet also pray continuously for God’s mercy, healing and hope for a people still struggling to recover from earthquakes and war, and join with us as we move towards God’s mercy and justice.
Walking humbly with our Lord,