x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Expats step up disaster response

The expatriate communities of the Philippines and Indonesia in the Emirates have stepped up relief efforts in aid of their compatriots.

Volunteers Sheila Cabawatan, from left, and Ronald Queddeng help Robert Ramos, a community leader, organise donations at Reef Mall.
Volunteers Sheila Cabawatan, from left, and Ronald Queddeng help Robert Ramos, a community leader, organise donations at Reef Mall.

Thousands of expatriates from the Philippines and Indonesia have stepped up their efforts to help victims of the floods in Manila and earthquake on Sumatra island last week.

The help comes in packages big and small. Benito Valeriano, the Filipino consul general in Dubai, met community leaders in Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah on Saturday. The community there has collected at least 10 boxes of food and clothing, which will be shipped to Manila along with the boxes of supplies collected in Dubai. Lalan Purnama, a leader in the Indonesian community in Abu Dhabi, said community members gathered at their embassy on Saturday evening.

"We were able to raise Dh7,000 and intend to remit the money to Indonesia once we receive a larger amount," he said. Thousands are expected to take part in a charity walk in Dubai's Safa Park at 8am today to raise cash for the flood victims in the Philippines. Each participant is asked to donate Dh50. All proceeds will be donated to the Philippine National Red Cross. The Indonesian Petroleum Engineers Association plans to raise funds tomorrow and on October 16.

"We will encourage members to donate money at both events," Mr Purnama said. There are an estimated 320,000 Filipinos in the Emirates. About 120,000 live in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. There are 75,000 Indonesians in the country, of whom 30,000 are in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Ruwais. About 70 per cent of those are nannies and housemaids. Noel Servigon, the consul general and chargé d'affaires at the Philippine Embassy, said relief goods could be sent to the Philippine government's department of social welfare and development's central office (DSWD) in Manila, while cash donations could be sent through the department and the Philippine National Red Cross.

On Tuesday night, the leaders of 30 Filipino organisations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain agreed to donate Dh20,000 (US$5,400) to the DSWD through the Land Bank of the Philippines. Individuals and Filipino organisations in Abu Dhabi earlier sent cash donations of Dh6,348. Two organisations, the Filipino Council of Leaders and the photo club Shootercada, reported that they had given Dh7,136. A Filipino bowling club has pledged Dh8,000.

Typhoon Ketsana struck Manila on September 26, killing nearly 300 and damaging the homes of about three million people. On Saturday, Typhoon Parma hit the northern parts of the Philippines but spared the capital. Parma weakened to a tropical storm that lingered off the Philippine coast on Monday after killing at least 16 and causing heavy flooding and landslides. Mr Servigon said he received a letter from the Red Crescent Authority on Sunday informing him that the authority is donating goods worth $100,000 to the Philippine National Red Cross through the UAE Embassy in Manila.

He said the Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicar for Arabia announced that a second collection for Catholic relief agencies in the Philippines would be made in all masses from tomorrow until Sunday. By yesterday, Dh85,000 had been sent to accredited government agencies and foundations in the Philippines, according to Robert Ramos, the overall chairman of the Filipino community organising committee in Dubai and the northern Emirates.

In all, 315 boxes of clothing and food have been collected in Dubai. The community also received clothes and shoes worth Dh46,701, Mr Ramos said. Wahid Supriyadi, the Indonesian ambassador to the UAE, said an informal committee was formed on Saturday to raise funds for the earthquake victims in Padang. "It was more of a private initiative to assess the needs of the people from that area," he said.

"Padang will have to go through a lot of reconstruction, and the residents have been traumatised by the earthquake." More information about cash donations to the Department of Social Welfare and Development is available from Manuel Inserto, a representative of the Land Bank of the Philippines, on 050-516-2508. For donations in kind, call 02-642-2489 or 02-642-6695, the Philippine overseas labour office in Abu Dhabi.

People from Dubai and the northern Emirates who wish to donate may contact Robert Ramos, overall chairman of the organising committee of the Filipino community, on 050-456-6272. rruiz@thenational.ae