Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines Friday, is estimated to have killed thousands and left many in need of water, food and medical supplies.
The storm, one of the most powerful typhoons ever record, made landfall in the Samar province of the eastern Philippines, then traveled through the central part of the country, according to published reports. It then reportedly made its way into the South China Sea, striking Vietnam, but as a much weaker storm.
The death toll is estimated to be 10,000 or even more, according to reports.
As some members of the Queens Filipino community began to hear from their loved ones, some local groups are getting together to raise funds to help in the rebuilding of devastated islands.
The Bayahnihan Filipino Community Center in Woodside, a program of the not-for-profit community grassroots organization Philippine Forum, who offers direct services to the Filipino communities in New York, has begun working with local residents and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) to raise money for victims of the typhoon.
“There’s a lot of unrest right now, people are frustrated,” said Anne Beryl Naguit, member of Philippine Forum and part of the NAFCON staff. “A lot of them [local families] are looking to seek guidance and for those who’ve found their families, it’s about getting the help to them. For a lot of our families, they are still looking for their families or at least they can’t get a hold of them”
Naguit’s parents were in the Phillipines at the time of the storm, taking a flight from the north to the south of the country.
According to Naguit, the Filipino government does not have a strong budget to provide disaster relief to victims, who now are left relying strongly on outside donations. One resident from the community center who has made contact with her family overseas said they told her they currently have no food, water or a good space to stay, said Naguit.
Since the storm hit on Friday, the group has managed to raise $10,000 nationally and they hope to continue raising the same amount every month.
“It’s amazing because its outpouring support,” said Naguit. “ $10,000 can build many communities in the Philippines.”
NAFCON is working together with grassroots organizations, consisting of church groups and students, in the Philippines to ensure the money raised will go directly to those who need it the most. Donations can be made on www.nafconusa.org through the NAFCON PayPal account.
NAFCON will hold a community forum on Typhoon Haiyan and candlelight vigil for the families affected by the storm on Wednesday, November 13 at 6 p.m. at the community center, located at 40-21 69th Street.
“We have a whole campaign for environmental justice on the situation in the Philippines, so people further understand that it is not just about cleaning the mess,” said Naguit. “We wanted to educate people so they are not just giving back, but they are also aware of helping the Philippines empower and change those environmental conditions to make a better society in the future as they rebuild.”
NAFCON is also coming together with the New York State Nurses Association and National Nurses United to gather emergency personnel to go to the greatly affected areas in the Philippines in early December.
The Filipino-American United Church of Christ in New York, which holds services at the Pilgrim Congregational church in Richmond Hill, is also accepting donations for the relief efforts in the Philippines.
Those looking to donate can either send their donations in the form of a check, payable to Fil-Am UCC and mailed to 102-35 89th Avenue, Richmond Hill, NY 11418, or by visiting www.filamuccny.org/3/donate.htm.
-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola