Throughout the Christmas season, teams of youths and young professional volunteers organized by Asia America Initiative and funded by Global Giving donors continue to conduct food and water delivery missions to hard to reach mainland communities and islands in the Visayas region in the Philippines. Local people live among the ruins of their demolished homes where the massive typhoon Haiyan unleashed Nature's fury on cities and small villages. On December 15, 2013 an AAI feeding mission of 15 male and female volunteers, including school terchers, nuurses and college students traveled by small pump boats for two hours on choppy high seas to a community of 1,000 persons on Baliguian island.
Adjacent to the city of Concepcion in typhoon's central path, the fishing community had lost all of its boats and the hard working people were unable to provide for their own livelihoods and nutritional needs, especially for children and elderly family members. The AAI team was the first private aid provider the islanders had seen in the one month since the storm had struck. As one child asked. "Did Santa send you? We cannot believe you are here." AAI's plan is to immediately deliever food to save lives but the next stage is to help fisher folks rebuild their boats to rebuild their lives and feed themselves. Hundreds of public schools and medical clinics were also flattened.
For the AAI volunteers who mostly live in the capial city of Iloilo, the choppy seas and high waves felt like a roller coaster. They were wearing life vests, baseball caps and powder blue AAI t-shirts along with Santa Claus hats in the tropical heat. Their rented boats were filled with rice, canned foods ands gerry cans filled with clean water to provide for more than 200 families or some 1,000 persons for one week. Fruit trees and gardens were destroyed by the heavy wind and waves Funds from Global Giving donors are essential to cover the cost of locally purchased life saving foods. Many children, whose schools were destroyed, already showed signs of malnutrition. Their smiles made the difficulties of the travel worth the effort for the AAI volunteers. Thus far they have provided food and other humanitarian supplies to more than 30,000 persons who lost their homes in the storm.
The urgent survival needs of countless communitiesin Visayas will persist well into 2014. "We could not achieve our mission without the support of compassionate donors such as our friends at Global Giving," says AAI team leader Marlon Jinon. "Even though we have never met in person, our international supporters are very much in our hearts."
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