Filipinos and Dutch alike joined together in Amsterdam on Sunday to pray for the souls of Yolanda victims and raise funds for those who survived.
The mass, followed by a food fair, was set up by various Filipino organisations based in the Netherlands within a week after Yolanda pummeled the island of Leyte and nearby provinces.
More than 4,000 euros was raised during the event, the first of the many lined-up in the following weeks.
“We feel that we have to respond in three ways: we have to respond urgently, we have to respond in the medium term, and we have to respond in the long term for the needs of the people in re-building their lives,” said Maitet Ledesma of IBON International, one of the coordinators of the event.
Sheryl Perez, whose house in Tanauan, Leyte was damaged at the height of typhoon Yolanda is grateful for such efforts as she knows exactly what the people in her town are going through. Countless people who have lost their homes are temporarily living in her house and being fed by her family. She does not know until when they can feed them though so she called upon the Philippine government not to forget Tanauan.
“I wish that government help and rescue efforts will finally reach our area. A lot of people also died there, if not dead, hungry and homeless. We are trying our best to give them temporary food and shelter but our personal supplies will not last long. There is even a shortage in blankets,” she said in a concerned tone.
Florisa Almodiel’s parents have decided to retire in Bantayan Island years ago in her dismay. “I told my parents when they decided to retire in Bantayan that it is a vulnerable island, that when something happens, that island will be wiped off the map,” she recounted. When she received news about the devastation that Yolanda brought to the island, she was distressed. It took her one full week to finally hear from them again. Luckily, they were unscathed. She urged the government to seriously take on the issue of climate change. “We have to start believing that it’s real. If we do not do something now, how many lives will have to be lost?” she added.
The proceeds of the fundraising activity will go to non-government organisations chosen by the coordinating groups. “We want to support the initiatives and efforts of non-government organisations because we want to multiply the channels for relief and rehabilitation because of the widespread areas that have been affected by the storm,” Ledesma explained.#