Scale of disaster is hard to grasp but our aid is making a difference
Published 16/11/2013 | 02:00
HOMELESS Filipinos resorted to drinking drain water through their T-shirts to survive as they waited for over a week for help to arrive in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.
Yesterday the survivors of the devastating typhoon thanked the people of Ireland for their generous donations as Goal became the first aid agency to reach a town of 60,000 people that was destroyed.
On the island of Panay, people were forced to drink drain water through their T-shirts as there was no running water; others are living off coconuts.
Goal's aid was the first foreign help to arrive there and packs of food and medicine were distributed to nearly 3,000 families.
The agency has received nearly €100,000 from the Irish public so far.
The stench of decaying bodies lies heavy in the air here as relatives keep their loved ones' corpses in the rubble of their former homes and play cards outside as a form of waking them.
The coastal town we visited suffered badly from the post-typhoon storm surge, which claimed 130 lives.
Bodies floated for days before being claimed and people "cannot afford the luxury of a funeral".
Goal trucks could not access the roads as they were covered in debris, broken pylons, telephone poles and cabling.
The drivers climbed to the roof of the large lorries full of aid to move low-lying cables and broken branches out of the way.
Most foreign aid and media focuses on Tacloban, where 220,000 people lived; but the destruction elsewhere is far worse, with remote regions struggling to survive.
Goal made it out to satellite islands yesterday and reached people who had not eaten for days.
Their livelihoods of fishing have been wiped out and they now have no form of income. As fishermen, their livelihoods have been ruined.
In total, 10 million people have been affected.
The totality of the disaster here is extremely difficult to comprehend as people walk around in rags carrying small bags with all of their possessions.
A small ziploc bag, shared by one family and containing a face cloth and a toothbrush, fell on the ground and into the mud – they scrambled frantically to gather it up.
Even though these people have nothing but the clothes on their backs and were a week awaiting food and aid, they have begun rebuilding their homes.
Men carried the fallen bamboo and were using it to make walls for new homes, while women hung out clothes to dry on nearby trees.
The packs distributed yesterday, which were funded by donations from the Irish public, will last the families about four days and contained a blanket, rice, noodles, tinned foods and paracetamol.
The island of Panay was in the direct path of typhoon Haiyan and the big challenge here will be repairing boats so that the people can return to fishing in order to make a living.