Half a million for Philippines relief


Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia

Adventists have provided $A495,ooo to support the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) disaster response program.

The generosity of supporters will enable ADRA to implement critical emergency response and recovery programs to save thousands of lives and help thousands to rebuild and move forward.

Churches across the country took up a special offering on November 23. Many churches ran special fundraising events; the Sydney Adventist Hospital ran a matched payroll-giving campaign and even ADRA’s op shops donated a week’s takings to the relief effort.

Although final figures haven’t yet been tallied, to date ADRA Australia has processed $A238,000 in direct donations and church conferences have reported $A257,000 in donations through the church offerings system, bringing the estimated total to $A495,000.

“The generosity of supporters will enable ADRA to implement critical emergency response and recovery programs to save thousands of lives and help thousands to rebuild and move forward,” said ADRA Australia’s director of public and supporter relations, Janelle Muller.

A young boy flexes his muscles carrying an ADRA hygiene kit.

The global ADRA network has been working closely with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other aid agencies to ensure a coordinated and efficient response. ADRA was among the first to respond after the November 8 super-storm, delivering emergency food and water in the hardest hit regions of the Philippines. The second wave of aid saw ADRA distribute water and hygiene kits, shelter provisions and additional emergency food for the worst effected families on the hard-hit coastal fringe of Panay Island. ADRA has now provided assistance to 34,000 people.

The hygiene kits will help protect vulnerable families against disease and illness. The kits include a jerry can, bucket, water treatment solution, soap, toothbrush and tooth paste, laundry detergent and other hygiene supplies. The food packs will provide enough rice, salt, sugar, oil, canned fish, peanut butter and other items to feed a family of five for a month, while the shelter kits will provide tarpaulins and other building supplies to ensure temporary shelters can be established as families plan for their future.

A lady opens up her hygiene kit.

ADRA Australia’s Braden Blyde has been in the Philippines for the past two weeks gathering information to support the relief effort. While there he met Nida, a widow, grandmother and carer to her eight grandchildren. “The storm has made it very difficult. I am afraid of more storms—I see clouds and I fear,” said Nida. “The children too are afraid. They won’t go near the sea and wake up at night in a panic.”

OCHA has described the humanitarian situation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan as catastrophic. The estimated number of people affected has been revised upward to almost 15 million, with around 4 million people displaced from their homes. Food, shelter, recovery of livelihoods and restoration of basic services are top priorities for the humanitarian community. Immediate life-saving and early recovery programs alone are estimated to require more than $US1 billion.

“The most difficult thing about being a widow is finding enough money and food for the kids,” said Nida. “Before Typhoon Haiyan I worked each day processing the fish brought in by the boats. Now, with most of the communities boats destroyed, and no fish to catch, my income has dried up.”

Nida and her children.

ADRA has finalised a recovery plan needs assessment which will inform the next phase of the response. Additional funds raised will go towards the restoration of livelihoods and the rebuilding of shelter.

For updates and further information, call ADRA Australia on 1800 242 372, or visit <adra.org.au> or <adra.org.nz>.