By Fr. Scott Binet MD, MI
Typhoon Ketsana left many victims in its wake. CTF Philippines is working together with CTF Central, SOS DRS and the Order of the Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians) to help them. See Dramatic Photos of the Disaster . The storm did not take CTF Central or CTF Philippines unawares. Brother Luca Perletti MI, a member of both CTF Central and the board of SOS DRS, was in the Philippines to give a retreat and soon started to coordinate the relief response together with Fr. Charley Ricafort MI, the leader of CTF Philippines. Here is the most recent information from the Camillians in the Philippines from Br. Luca Perletti.
On October 2, writing from Manila (National Capital Region), Brother Luca tells us of the evolution of the effects of Ketsana, the initial response of CTF Philippines and their first meeting with him as a representative of CTF Central to address the damage caused by the Typhoon. Luca writes:
The announced typhoon has produced much rain. Although the meteorologists have excluded the possibility of Ketsana returning to Manila, already on its knees, they still want to calm the people by affirming that the catastrophe is only a result of the monsoon season. However, the rain can only create fear and bring to mind sad memories.
The violence with which the rain started to fall promises nothing good. The area devastated by the typhoon last Saturday did not need the rain. The people have not returned to their normal activities and already they are announcing that there will be new flooding. When will it finish? It is not difficult to imagine that this is the question that is going through the minds of all the inhabitants of the neighborhoods of Manila and the region of Luzon that have in a matter of a few hours lost loved ones, property and the year’s harvest.
Seen up close this rain produces fear. The boundary between heaven and earth disappears and everything is enveloped in a thick shadow of clouds – seemingly low enough that they can touched. And the falling water seems like a sort of heavy blanket that makes it difficult to move around. And providing relief in these conditions has become dangerous. Manila is already a chaotic city. Imagine now in the face of this flood! The people are leaving work to take to the streets and go home while it is still possible – a Dante-like mob!
As always after every calamity there is a generous response to which all contribute. While I was waiting to start working again, a small truck filled with food for the victims of the typhoon left to deliver it. The food is only one of many offers of help (proof of the solidarity that is often anonymous) that are arriving at the major seminary of the Camillians, i.e. the St. Camillus Scholasticate.
The scholasticate in fact has become a little center for gathering various materials that are distributed daily to families that have suffered damages from the typhoon. The Camillians are concentrating their actions in the zones of Pasig, Cogeo and Marikina where they have been exercising their ministry animating the local Christian community. Gravely affected by the typhoon, the numerous families of the zone have received relief through the work of the Camillians who have been bringing them food, clothing and basic necessities.
The activity is coordinated by various Camillian religious – which is part of the strategy of CTF Philippines – who already had the opportunity to distinguish themselves in responding to similar natural disasters. In fact, the mechanism is well-oiled and the response this time has been immediate. And under the guidance of their superior and formator, Fr. Evan Vilanueva, the young temporary professed – taking advantage of a break in their studies – have used their time to make packages of food that are then distributed to specific families. This avoids the sad phenomenon of profiteering and outbreaks of violence. Every evening a little truck leaves the tranquility of the seminary and a group of young religious goes to this or that slum or neighborhood where, quickly and with precision, they see to the distribution of the waited-for-food. In this first phase of the emergency even water has been important because that from the local waterworks is contaminated. Today, for example, the students left with a truckload of just pure water, which will prove important for the prevention of sicknesses and the outbreak of epidemics. This needs great attention because – with the passage of time – it will be necessary to begin cleaning the area affected by the flooding in order to prevent terrible epidemics.
To this end our polyclinics are already preparing medical teams that can go to the locations to bring help to people who are without shelter. There is no time to lose. With great difficulty people will go to hospitals or private clinics: it is better to be ready to go and help them. This, in any case, is the second phase of the emergency. At the present time we only hope that the rain stops and everyone is able to have enough to survive until tomorrow.
On Friday October 2, CTF Philippines had a meeting in Manila at which Brother Luca Perletti, representing CTF Central, was present. He writes:
Meeting of CTF (Camillian Task Force) Philippines
Friday October 2, 2009
Dear friends, this evening I met here in Manila with the local CTF and the Provincial of the Philippines. It was a good and fruitful meeting. I will give you just the most important details that can also be sent to the Order via the website and mailing list.
1. Present Activities
Presently some communities are engaged in the work of providing for the essential needs of disaster victims: this work is directed primarily at furnishing food, clean water, clothing and various utensils. The situation is still unstable and does not allow for other initiatives.
The Camillians are known as being trustworthy and many relief items have been sent to our houses to be distributed. As of today Camillians are helping some 1260 families in the territories of Boso Boso (750 families), Cainta (400 families), Pasig (52 families),
Medhaven (40 families) and Cogeo (15 families).
Slowly – even if one cannot yet use the word “end” because it started to rain again – the first phase of the emergency (meeting the vital needs of people) is giving way to the second phase characterized by an intervention aimed at dealing with illnesses and epidemics. There are already signs of these realities, and Camillians have begun to warehouse medications. In fact, the Camillians think that in the near future they will need some medical teams to meet the healthcare needs of people. Staff and volunteers at Camillian facilities are on standby.
The last phase in which the Camillians plan to involve themselves is the rehabilitation phase: furnishing new homes. This is a more advanced phase for which specific projects will need to be written. There has already been a survey to decide who will receive the funds and the conditions for the distribution of these. They will be given in the form of a loan to be returned without interest – to maintain a “corpus fund”. This will apply most of all to the many staff of Camillian healthcare institutions who were gravely affected by the flooding.
3. Present Needs
Above all in Boso Boso, an area outside of metropolitan Manila and difficult to reach (under the care of Fr. Meng MI), there is still need for food, clothing, kitchen utensils and medications. Here there is a significant problem for reconstruction because the inhabitants of the village are “abusive”.
4. The Contribution of the Province
Presently the Philippine Province is unable to provide significantly for the relief effort without making cuts in other expenses. They will contact the missions in Taiwan and Australia to ask for a donation. Fr. Weber, who has helped the Province generously with the hospital in Mati, is going to help.
To this end a decision was made that all the funds will go through CTF Central, and Camillian donors will be directed to CTF Central.
5. The Commitment of CTF Central
CTF Central has agreed to offer 15,000 Euro to cover immediate needs (see above) and to acquire medications that will likely soon be rationed (the pharmacists are cunning!).
Tomorrow I will send the bank account of the Province and ask Fr. Paolo Guarise to send money from Rome. We are asking if SOS DRS (CTF-USA) can already begin to do something while we are waiting for benefactors – Camillian and otherwise – to fill the accounts opened for the disaster in both Rome and the US.
With the money that is gathered we will organize a type of warehouse to which religious of various communities will come who are involved in relief work.
6. Next meeting of CTF Philippines – October 6
Finally, we close with the appeal of Padre Meng [Domenico S. Barawid] at the parish in Boso-Boso, in the outskirts of Manila. On October 2 he writes –
“We thank the Lord that we are still alive. We are living a situation that is very difficult yet we believe that this moment can be transformed into a time of grace. I have reported on the many families of our parish that were devastated by the Typhoon. We have urgent need for food, medicines, kitchen utensils, mattresses, blankets, and materials to build homes and workplaces. We are very grateful for whatever you might be able to give. Thanks for your sensitivity and constant interest.”
In Faith, Your Fr. Domingo S. Barawid, MI – Pastor
Father Scott F. Binet MD, MI
International Coordinator – CTF
October 4, 2009
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
USA – How to Financially Support the Relief Effort
Online or By Check
Online To make an online donation, visit our donation page and make a secure payment using PayPal:
Please specify “Typhoon Ketsana in Philippines” using the option to “Add special instructions to the seller”.
By Check Checks can be made out to SOS DRS. On the memo line write “Typhoon Ketsana in Philippines”. This is the title of the special account set up for the disaster. Checks should be mailed to: SOS DRS 1039 East Russell Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53207
For more information, in the United States contact the SOS DRS Secretariat at 414-431-6503 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org