By Camille Banson, V Form
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines with 197mph winds and relentless floods that consumed homes. An estimated 5,000 people died, 18,000 injured, and over 1,000 still unaccounted for, but numbers do not fully describe the devastating situation. Corpses hung from trees and were scattered on sidewalks. Desperate residents in search of food, water, and fuel looted grocery stores and gas stations. People lost their lives, livelihoods, homes, children, parents.
A month later, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are still displaced, homeless, without loved ones, and hungry because of delays in the delivery of aid. Massive deliveries of food, water, and supplies can only arrive by ship, which can take several days to arrive. Also, the roads were impassible for many days, making distribution of aid difficult. However, this has not dampened the spirits of the Filipino people who are working hard to restore some semblance of normal life; gasoline stations have resumed operation, groceries have reopened, and schools are planned to be back in session in mid-January. Currently, the Philippines is focusing on putting families back in touch, getting clean water and food to the affected areas, treating injured survivors, and retaining order in damaged jails. Electricity has been restored in Tacloban, one of the major cities hit by the storm. A mass vaccination campaign is being carried out in affected areas.
This catastrophe is especially alarming for me because my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandparent) live in the Philippines. Upon first hearing of the huge storm, I called them up immediately. Fortunately, they are safe and were not directly hit by the storm. Having visited them several times and, more recently, in October, I am very familiar with the Philippines. I spend most of my summer there every year and come to truly appreciate the Filipino culture, which shapes my identity as a Filipino-American. Last summer, I experienced a typhoon there since they are quite common during the rainy-season. Winds and rain shook the city and, because of the poor draining system, floods rose rapidly. I cannot imagine how much stronger and more forceful Typhoon Haiyan was. Since I just visited two months ago, its impact on me is tremendous. In October, I visited the halcyon and growing country, and one month later, the country was in disorder, a state of emergency, and forced to rebuild from nothing. I am still shocked by the capabilities of the calamitous storm and how it can destroy so much in just a couple of hours. However, I am also surprised by the abundant amount of aid the Philippines is receiving and the fortitude of the Filipinos.
The recuperation process is aided by the generous donations from people. The United Kingdom, Australia, United States, and United Arab Emirates are among the 43 countries that contributed. Organizations such as American Red Cross, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, Google, and UNICEF also have added to the relief efforts by donating money, supplying food and clean water, and reconstructing infrastructure. Filipinos who live abroad (1 out of every 10) are sending money back home at astounding rates. The tremendous support shown all around the world exemplifies how the global community is coming together to rebuild the devastated area.
St. Mark’s School donated $2,051. 27 to the Philippines relief efforts by holding a fundraiser and donating most of the money raised by the Groton Day t-shirts. One of the major attributes that St. Mark’s School promotes is global citizenship. Each of us should recognize that we belong to a greater community: a community that calls upon us to be a responsible and active citizens of the world, to take the global issues and cries into our own hands and not just let others address them, to keep in mind how our actions affect the world, and to engage and actively participate in this community. St. Mark’s School recognizes this call and, thus, develops students to understand the true meaning and responsibilities of being a global citizen.
Camille Banson is a day student from Hopkinton and is in the Vth form. She enjoys traveling, writing, and listening to music.
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Jone, J. (2013, November 24). Aftermath of typhoon haiyan in philippines. The Washington Times, Retrieved from http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/moving-needle/2013/nov/24/after-typhoon-haiyan-how-philippines-coping/
Philippines typhoon: UK commits extra £30m in aid. (2013, November 16). BBC News, Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24970066