Typhoon-wrecked areas of the Philippines may not figure as prominently in most news summaries these days, but life for the survivors is far from back to normal. TWR’s national partner in that country continues doing what it can to assist in the massive recovery efforts.
When powerful Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, struck this Pacific island nation on Nov. 8, 2013, it left more than 6,000 people dead, and farming and property damage estimates are climbing toward US$1 billion. Many schools and businesses are operating again, food supplies apparently are sufficient, water supplies are at varying levels of sufficiency and the areas along the storm’s path are now mostly accessible, according to TWR Philippines ministry director Leonardo Perez. But more than 4 million people remain displaced, and power has been restored to only a small portion of the households in the hardest-hit urban center, Tacloban.
Almost as soon as the typhoon had left the islands, TWR personnel in various parts of the globe were scrambling to respond amid the disaster. First, a special radio program was developed aimed at meeting the spiritual, informational and psychological needs of survivors. Before long, Perez and six others from TWR Philippines traveled to Eastern Samara, not far from Tacloban, to distribute food and 300 radios.
“Personally, I felt that I was in another world when I was in the area because anywhere I turned to were destroyed houses and properties,” Perez recalled. “It obviously has an emotional impact, also. In my personal interview with a mother, she told me that her small child is feeling scared when it is about to rain.”
Along with distributing food and radios during the first trip, the TWR Philippines staff visited and prayed with survivors. The radios are especially important because they enable the recipients to tune into the special program, Emergency Philippines, broadcast on shortwave from TWR’s major transmitter facility on Guam.
In addition to content produced by TWR Philippines, Perez said, the one-hour daily broadcast includes segments from “When Your Whole World Changes”; Member Care Media’s global disaster and relief programming; Project Hannah’s Women of Hope; and Dr. Kim of Operation Blessing. When staff members return to the area in a second trip, they plan to give out another 1,000 radios, Perez added.
A fund to underwrite the outreach to typhoon survivors has been created, and contributions are welcome at www.twr.org/typhoon.
Perez cited specific needs that TWR staff members and supporters can be praying for in the days ahead.
- Pray for the second trip. The purpose of the second trip is purely radio distribution and promotion of programs aired from Guam as well as TWR Philippines in-country programming that potentially reaches some of the affected areas.
- Pray for potential partnerships with other organizations to find more effective ways of reaching out to the survivors.
- Pray for TWR Philippines staff who will be returning to the affected areas. This second trip will be longer and more tiring.
- Pray that programs aired from Guam will be translated into the widely used Tagalog language and that those programs eventually will be aired on local FM stations able to reach the affected areas.
- Pray for the sustainability of Emergency Philippines. All Filipinos can benefit from education about coping with natural disasters.