Money raised by the Greater Trail Filipino community last month is helping survivors of Typhoon Haiyan rebuild their lives, one roof tile at a time.
The deadly tropical storm churned through the Philippines archipelago Nov. 8, leaving thousands dead, more than 200,000 homes destroyed, and over one million people displaced.
Siony Thompson, a retired nurse from Genelle, organized a Dec. 1 fundraiser, on behalf of the West Kootenay Filipino Canadian Society, that brought in $3,300 for the cause.
The money was divvied up and sent directly to seven families in the affected areas who have relatives living in Greater Trail and Christina Lake.
“The money was sent a few days after the fundraiser,” explained Thompson. “I’ve talked to the recipients and the funds have been used to build roofs on the damaged houses so they can begin to get back in their homes.”
The 237-kilometre-an hour winds whipped up six-metre walls of seawater that tossed ships inland, and swept many people out to sea.
“The high water washed away all the families’ belongings,” said Thompson. “The typhoon took everything they owned so our families have to start all over again.”
Although the donated funds have begun the process of rebuilding, it isn’t enough to sustain those in the hardest hit areas, and Thompson worries that the rest of the world will soon forget about the typhoon’s impact to the island country.
“I worry that people will forget like what happened with Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “I think that is what is going to happen and the Filipino people will be forgotten.
“The funding needs to be ongoing and cannot stop now,” Thompson continued. “But how do we do that?”
In addition to the fundraiser, the local Filipino community shipped care packages of food and clothing to family members shortly after the storm, however, those provisions have yet to arrive for those in need.
“I sent a box to my family before Christmas,” said Bella Tilberg, a Trail nurse with family living in the hardest hit region of Tacloban. “And it still hasn’t arrived to help my sister and nephew.”
Tilberg owns a home in Apitong, a community near the downtown core of Tacloban, a highly urbanized city that is a popular tourist destination.
“I have a house there that I planned to be my retirement home,” explained Tilberg. “The foundation is still there but I haven’t seen pictures of the damage yet.”
She is in contact with her sibling, a teacher who lost her job after the typhoon destroyed the school that employed her.
Tilberg said although news channels are reporting that electricity has been repaired in Tacloban, conversations with her sister tell a different story.
“All this time later there is still no power,” she said. “My sister said they are using solar lights,” Tilberg explained. “But it has been raining
so even those aren’t working.”
In March, Tilberg is planning on travelling to Tacloban because the city’s airport is now operational.
However, people are still hungry, looting prevails and aid from organizations like the Red Cross is not reaching those affected.
“It’s been four years since I’ve been to my home,” she said. “I am not excited for this trip but I need to see what has happened with my own eyes.”
The Filipino Society has no further fundraising events planned, but continues to accept monetary donations from the community.
For information or to donate to the cause, call Thompson at 693-5476.