After seeing the destructions brought by Typhoon Haiyan to the Philippines on television, my dear friends Iwan and Indah Esjepe were moved to help. They designed a tote bag to raise funds for the Haiyan victims. Each bag costs Rp. 75,000 and all of the proceeds go to the survivors. Our running and fundraising community, Berlari Untuk Berbagi (Running for Sharing), pledges to double the value of 200 bags and all off the proceeds go to the Red Cross, an international non profit that is helping survivors of the disasters, and we would like you to help.
One of Berlari untuk Berbagi runners, Alice Budisatrijo, is one of the first international journalists to go in to Tacloban. Here is her account of how much help people there desperately need.
“Four colleagues and I flew in to Tacloban on November 11th, carrying not only our broadcast equipment, but also everything we needed to sustain our team of 11 journalists. We brought in a generator, fuel, self-heating food, gallons of drinking water, flashlights, sleep mats, tents, toilet papers and even folding chairs.
As our plane approached the runway of the wrecked airport, we could see trees stripped off their leaves and toppled to their sides like match sticks and a coast line littered with remnants of buildings, homes and neighbourhoods.
One room at the airport has turned into a makeshift hospital where one woman gave birth to a baby girl she named Bea Joy, while next to her lay another woman who was also about to go into labor. They lay on the floor among dozens of the injured.
On the other side of the airport hundreds of people crammed into a room to wait for a military plane to take them out of the city, while soldiers stood between them and the runway. Many of them walked 10 km or more to get there, carrying their young children and anything left from their homes. They saw no other options but to leave the city. Those whose names were called had a split second of joy on their faces, before they clutched their children’s hands and hurried forward, as if not wanting to take any chances of missing the flight.
Our colleague who got into Tacloban ahead of us and picked us up at the airport warned us about what we would see outside the airport.
Sure enough, within a few hundred meters from the airport, we started seeing the horror that, as one of us said, aside from war, was a real hell on earth.
Human bodies were laid on the streets. Their neighbours, or possibly strangers, wrapped them in cloths, metal sheets, or tarps – anything people could find to give the deceased some shred of dignity.
Almost no homes and buildings have their roof intact. Thick electrical poles split in two or fell on piles and piles of woods and metal.
One of my colleagues met a 13-year-old girl with a badly infected wound on her head. For six days she was trapped under the ruins of her home, with the bodies of her entire family lying around her. The only thing she was able to tell the nurses was her name, Rebecca. The only thing the doctor could do was to clean her wound. They had no medicines.
But the resilience of the Filipinos was nothing short of amazing. We saw people getting dirty water from a river and well, and straining them on a dirty t-shirt before cooking them. We saw men picking up planks of wood and using hammers and nails to build some kind of a roof over their heads. And we saw a hundred meter long and orderly line of men, women and children, queuing for rice.
I met a brother and sister who survived the storm by swimming through dead bodies from their home to a school that turned into a shelter. Their home and entire neighbourhood were washed out. When they got to the shelter, there was no food. So he went along with people who looted the nearby Robinsons mall. There was a baby who needed water, he said. But two days later, he didn’t know where else to look. The police was guarding the Robinsons. Help was still nowhere in sight.
These stories are repeated over and over from the first town hit by the storm, Guiuan in Eastern Samar, to Tolosa and Tacloban on Leyte island, to the northern coast of Cebu island, and others.
On day 6 after the storm, the international aid arrived and had since trickled in and made a tremendous difference. People in Tacloban and even more remote areas are finally getting food, water, and basic household needs. But a lot more is still needed.
The UN estimates 13 million people have been affected by the storm—3 million of them displaced, and 2.5 million in need of food assistance.
This was, after all, the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall. The Philippines being an archipelago and the damaged infrastructure has made it difficult for journalists to cover the disaster, and even more difficult for the authorities and aid workers to help. But there is no word to describe what the survivors have gone through. For so many here, there will forever be life before and after the typhoon.”