As the Canadian Red Cross team is busy making arrangements to set up its field hospital (ERU) in Tacloban, Philippines to provide health care for people affected by the typhoon, we wanted to share this update from Jose Garcia-Lozano, a Canadian Red Cross staff member who is currently in the Philippines with Conrad Sauvé, the Secretary General of the Canadian Red Cross.
This morning, November 16th, Conrad and I visited the Cebu Branch of the Philippines Red Cross, where we were welcomed by Chairman, Attorney Alan Nicolas Ouano, as well as Vicjay, coordinator of operations. Chairman Ouano was extremely thankful of our visit, and said that visits by other Red Crossers coming from so far away felt like a warm touch of solidarity and it was worth as much as the relief supplies they were receiving.
The Chairman noted that all international attention was focused on Tacloban, which is understandable, as it was the hardest hit city, but that there are hundreds of communities in so many islands that were devastated and need as much support. He was very glad to hear we had been in communities like Sitio Quarry Cuna Medellin, and Barangay Cogon in Northern Cebu island, and that we had seen first hand the impact of the typhoon.
As he spoke, the branch began to be filled with volunteers of all ages, including some branch Board members who began to download relief supplies from a truck with Red Cross supplies. Other volunteers meanwhile were assembling food parcels and hygiene kits and filling the hallways and rooms with stacks of supplies to be distributed later in the day.
The CBC’s Susan Ormiston with her filming crew were also there and they spent an hour filming and interviewing Conrad. As we left, a few young volunteers were setting up a small stand on the sidewalk, selling tickets for a rock concert in Cebu city, on November 29th to raise funds for the Red Cross; we were invited, of course! “Why don’t you stay until then? It will be a great concert!”
As I left to go to the airport, I felt confidence that the resilience of Cebu citizens, both in the city and the communities, their positive spirit and determination, was going to be the best ally to the international emergency response, and to those in the many islands working to recover from this, and counting on support from us all.
The Canadian Red Cross is inviting Canadians to donate to the Typhoon Haiyan fund to support relief efforts in the Philippines. Donations made by individual Canadians between November 8 and December 9, 2013 will be matched by the Government of Canada.