In the wake of the devastating 2013 Philippines typhoon, the Baltic Exchange and many of its members provided financial support to an emergency appeal by Sailors’ Society to help seafaring communities. Two years on and Sailors’ Society reports on what it has achieved.
On 8 November 2013, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall struck the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 and leaving millions without food, shelter or livelihoods.
Sailors’ Society, one of the world’s largest maritime welfare charities, joined the international aid effort. Having raised £225,000 in an emergency appeal, largely with industry support, the charity partnered with Habitat for Humanity Philippines and the Homer Foundation and began the Rebuild Philippines campaign to help seafaring communities affected by the super typhoon.
Two years on, we are seeing the results of this mission to rebuild lives, homes and communities.
In the days that followed Haiyan, Sailors’ Society responded internationally by mobilising chaplains to offer emotional, practical and spiritual support to Filipino seafarers and their families. These port chaplains did everything possible to put men and women in touch with their families and bring vital news from home.
To date, Sailors’ Society’s Rebuild Philippines campaign has provided 48 new homes for seafarers’ families, benefitting more than 300 people.
Sandra Welch, Sailors’ Society’s director of programme, said: “We have long offered chaplaincy and welfare support to seafarers in the Philippines. When the typhoon struck, it was vital that Sailors’ Society acted to provide dedicated emergency support and longer-term relief to those who had their lives torn apart.”
Ten days after the typhoon, the Society flew two experienced Tagalog speaking chaplains, Frans Sahetapy and Jasper del Rosario, to the stricken islands, providing supplies and financial assistance to those most in need.
Jasper said: “The young widow of a seafarer was stripped of all means to support herself after the storm. Her home was devastated, with all her belongings washed away. Nothing was left, only thick, black mud inside the ruined home and dead bodies of her neighbours and friends lay around. The small business, which she started after her husband died, to provide for her family, was also claimed by the typhoon. She was crying when she told us about the tragic moment the storm hit and could not see how to make a living now everything was gone. She asked: “How can I look after my children?” We recommended grants to help her support her family and to rebuild her home and business. Her eldest son wants to become a seafarer someday like his dad.”
To date, Sailors’ Society’s Rebuild Philippines campaign has provided 48 new homes for seafarers’ families, benefitting more than 300 people. The houses are resilient to an Intensity 9 earthquake and wind speeds of 275kph, ensuring the buildings will hold in the event of another natural disaster. Each house has its own latrine; crucial for water sanitation and disease prevention.
In addition, the charity has supplied fishing boats for seafarers’ families who need this supplementary income to get back on their feet and a dedicated family outreach worker providing trauma counselling and specialist help. Three port chaplains are also working with seafarers and their families, offering financial and spiritual support.
Some 4,500 schools were damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Sailors’ Society has responded by building classrooms that double as emergency community shelters for three schools.
Rose Alon, principal of one of the beneficiary schools and wife of a seafarer, was proud that a group connected to her husband was the first to extend help. Every time she talks about Sailors’ Society’s ‘Noah’s Ark’ classroom, she beams.
More than 1,500 students and teachers will benefit from these new buildings and equipment, including bikes for students to travel the often long distance to school, and computers to work on and communicate with family members at sea.
Two newly built medical/community centres are also providing vital health facilities and meeting points for a community of 2,500 people.
Sandra added: “Thousands of lives are now getting back on track as a result of our joint relief efforts, but the development work is ongoing and, for many, the emotional scars are still healing. In 2016, Sailors’ Society plans to build more homes and medical centres for seafaring communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan, as well as continuing to provide welfare and emotional support.”
To find out more about Sailors’ Society’s Rebuild Philippines campaign and how to support it, please visit: www.sailors-society.org/rebuildphilippines