x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hundreds join aid effort in Dubai for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan

People from all sections of the community turn out to offer whatever aid they can, which will be sent to the Philippines in ship containers.

A man walks by a demolished street in Leyte, Philippines. Countries all over the world have pledged relief aid to help support those affected by the typhoon but damage to the airport and roads have made moving the aid into the worst-affected areas very difficult. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
A man walks by a demolished street in Leyte, Philippines. Countries all over the world have pledged relief aid to help support those affected by the typhoon but damage to the airport and roads have made moving the aid into the worst-affected areas very difficult. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

DUBAI // Hundreds of people gathered at the Philippines consulate on Friday, dropping off anything they could to help the relief effort for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The response overwhelmed organisers of the donation drive, who had arranged for three 12-metre containers to be filled and sent to the Philippines.

“We will have to order 10 more containers, I think,” said Wendell Castro, the volunteer in charge of organising the donations. “We really didn’t think this many people would turn up with so much to donate.”

The containers are scheduled to leave for Cebu on Saturday.

“People have donated clothes, food, blankets and baby products, all of which is needed,” said Mariam Terresa Binghay, a recruitment company operations manager who also volunteered.

“Most people lost their home and everything they own, so anything we can send will help.”

A human chain passed bags and boxes of food and clothing across the compound of the consulate to the loading area. Everyone wanted to do their part, no matter how small.

“People were caught by surprise, even the government didn’t expect this magnitude of devastation,” said Frank Cimafranca, consul general of the Philippines, whose home province was affected by the recent earthquake.

“Relief efforts are ongoing and we are thankful to all our international friends and especially the generosity of the UAE, who I think prompted some other countries to increase their aid.”

Mr Cimafranca said it was not only Filipinos who turned out to help – Emiratis and other expatriates were also keen to assist.

He said his government was considering moving some of the more vulnerable people to neighbouring provinces less affected by the typhoon.

“We want to move the injured, elderly, women and children from the areas that have no food, water and power to areas where they have all the amenities to care for them while we can rebuild their neighbourhoods,” he said.

Nancy Reyes, 48, has been in tears since the typhoon struck. Her family of 18 live in San Jose, a remote part of Tacloban, the city most severely affected by the storm.

For four days she had no news from home until she got a call from her sister in Manila, who said a reporter managed to get a message across to them that the family were safe but had lost everything.

“My mother and sister are injured and there is no medicine. I have no way of contacting them, the phones are down,” she said. I’m so happy they are safe but everything is gone.”

Ms Reyes has worked as a housemaid in Dubai for 17 years, saving most of her earnings and sending it home to build the house that has now been destroyed in the storm.

“I was planning to go home on December 2 and surprise them. It has been 10 years since I’ve been able to have Christmas with them. Now there is no home to go back to,” she said.

Another donation drive will be held at the consulate, in Al Qusais, on December 12, with a concert scheduled for the following day. For more details, call the consulate on 04 220 7100.

malkhan@thenational.ae