Typhoon Ketsana 4 (Philippines)

Slightly less than 3 weeks have passed since Typhoon Ketsana devastated Manila and its surroundings on its way to other countries in Asia. For much of the world the destruction that this terrible storm left in its wake seems a distant memory. That is the way the news cycle works these days, particularly when the disasters in the world seem to show no sign of abating. In the last 3 weeks Asia has been devastated by 2 earthquakes in Padang, 2 Typhoons in the Philippines, and a Tsunami in Samoa. For the people of the Philippines, the effects of Typhoon Ketsana are not a memory but a reality still very much to be reckoned with. Such is the case as well for CTF Philippines, CTF central and SOS DRS.

As I noted in our last update, Ketsana 3, the relief mission continues. And it has gained greater momentum through the support of Fr. Ivo Anselmi and the initial financial support of CTF Central. Fr. Ivo, the Provincial of the Camillians in the Philippines, wrote and open letter to his confreres showing support of them and hoping for aid from the Order. To the best of my knowledge financial support has already come from CTF Central, Australia (Camillians); Taiwan (Camillians) and Germany (Province).

At the first meeting on October 2 of the Camillian group responsible for orchestrating the relief effort, the participants – under the guidance of Brother Luca Perletti MI, made a decision to seek funding from CTF Central and SOS DRS. CTF Central sent monies earlier this week through the efforts of Fr. Paolo Guarise MI. As a member of CTF Central, he has been an important “bridge” for communication between Brother Luca in the Philippines and me in the US. Having Marco Iazzolino very close by Fr. Paolo in Rome has been a blessing for us as well. Marco’s familiarity with the way Caritas works in disasters is sure to be a plus.

CTF Central sent a significant amount of money to support the relief effort in response to an emergency relief proposal submitted to me/CTF Central by CTF Philippines. SOS DRS is evaluating the proposal itself and is looking at second a second distribution of monies to continue to sustain the effort underway. Many thanks to Frs. Sam, Meng, Charley, Ivo and Aris for their efforts.

What follows are the minutes from the most recent CTF Philippines meeting with Brother Luca held on October 6 in Marikina. As I write Brother Luca is back in Rome after a “Providential visit” to the Typhoon-stricken Philippines. He was there to give a retreat and instead found himself in the middle of a Typhoon – surely part of God’s plan.

CTF Central will be meeting on October 12 in Rome to assess the situation in the Philippines and that with its other disaster projects: Kenya, Myanmar, Italy and beyond. We have much on our agenda. I am looking forward to the meeting myself. In fact, I will be there shortly. As I write I am high over Canada. The world looks small from here. Indeed it is with modern travel and communication. That’s good, though, because then we can be in touch more frequently. Pleasant reading!

Brother Luca writes:

CTF Philippines

Follow up meeting held on October 6, 2009

Marikina, St. Camillus College

The meeting was convened as a continuation of previous meeting. The main goals were:

Update of the relief works; endorsement of Fr. Sam’s project proposal in fulfillment to CTF Central and SOS Drs (USA) requirements; Caritas Italia appeal; next steps.

Update of the relief works

We acknowledge that the relief work is still going on: rehabilitation work is far ahead and respective proposals will be set in due time. They will be forwarded to Bro. Luca who in turn will find an appropriate sponsor. The terms and conditions for granting relief funds (as loan) to the victims of typhoon will be discussed in due time: this applies to those who have no regular contact with the Camillians, while recovering loans will be easier with our staff.

Presently, the relief fund amounts to about 1,600,000 pesos, which entitles to go on for sometimes.

Coming to the sites in details:

Buso Buso – Fr. Meng presents an interesting survey. 2,272 families have had their livelihoods destroyed by floods and landslide. 75% of them have already been reached for a single donation. The Government is providing help but many do not reach the distribution site. Therefore, they still need food items for another expected month. In the same area 211 families have been made homeless: they will be considered as potential beneficiaries in the rehabilitation phase. In this area we commit to continue provision of relief work (food items) for another month.

Cainta – Fr. Rolly informs that about 1200 families have been reached. Presently they are focusing on 197 families residing in Dulong Parola: they are neglected and have no specific support. The area they live in is prone to epidemics and stench emanating from rotting carcasses can be felt already. In this area we commit to continue provision of relief work (food items) for another month.

Pasig, St. Camillus Polyclinic – Fr. Rolly offers an update on the damage suffered by equipment. Roughly, we will need 850,000 pesos for maintenance and purchase of new equipments. They will be part of the proposal to be submitted to Caritas Italia.

MedHaven – we acknowledge the report sent by Fr. Sam. It states “Camillus MedHaven Community Based Rehabilitation Program is currently undertaking continuous relief operations for the next weeks. While primary target families are those members of the CM-CBR Program, neighbouring households and extended families are assisted”. It means that more than 200 families are been included in the project. In this area we commit to continue provision of relief work (food items) for another month.

Endorsement of Fr. Sam’s project proposal

The proposal of Fr. Sam will be forwarded to CTF Central and SOSDrs in view of the already received grant of 15,000 euro. Fr. Ivo will write a letter asking SOSDrs to cover the balance: in fact the total outcome of this project is about 30,000 euro.

Caritas Italia appeal

Bro. Luca presents a sample of appeal to Caritas Italia. It aims to get financial help for the relief work. It must be submitted at the earliest. He himself will take it to Roma. The appeal is approved in its contents, with the inclusion of the operations described in the item “update”. The entire project will last until October 31, 2009.

Fr. Charlie will take the proposal to Caritas Philippines for endorsement.

Next steps

While the relief work continues, we will start drafting proposals for rehabilitation by identifying potential beneficiaries, among our staff and the marginalized victims. Special attention will be given to Buso Buso community and to the disabled children of the Camillus MedHaven project.

Fr. Sam gives us a birds-eye view from the disaster.

It is an on-site report and a sign of the rigorous work that CTF Philippines is doing.

Dear Bro. Luca and confreres,

Thank you so much for your e-mail response. We just arrived from our relief operations. Tomorrow is another day. We still have enough goods to distribute until Sunday. We thank the Scholasticate Community (Fr. Evan & Bro. Dan) for the job well done in sourcing relief goods! Kudos to them!

Thank you also for all the support, quick mindedness and strong leadership you show us to get things done. Relief operations need to be swift, quick and responsive. I share in the caution of Fr. Scott, though, for us to observe the minimum requirement of justifying the sources and uses of funds. The template he sent us is a good start; we can limit the narrative though into one or two pages. What becomes very important for everybody is the ability to document expenses in a transparent and accountable way. Our strength lies in this area or so I think. We don’t stop there. We see to it that logistics, supplies and relief goods go to intended beneficiaries. It becomes very important to do solid ground work to identify families gravely affected by calamities. Our first two days of relief distribution were “irrational dispersal” of goods. Now we instituted “focused targeting” to maximize deep impact and equity. Distribution List becomes powerful, using the community leaders as informants to gather information on the extent of damage to households and prioritize families that need urgent assistance. Distribution List is a transparent manner also of accounting to our supporters and funding partners the resources we receive.  We are in a continuous learning curve in this area. And as we respond more to disasters, we shall be able to come up with useful procedures based on our solid experience on the ground, operating systematic responses like what we are now doing.

I was talking with Fr. Aris through Yahoo Messenger last night. He is in Toronto, deep into fund raising for CTF and for the Order. Kudos to him too! God bless you Father Aris!

Thank you again Brother Luca and God bless. Onward Camillians! Fr. Sam A. Cuarto, MI

Camillus MedHaven
29 Apitong St., Marikina Heights
1800 Marikina City, Philippines
Tel. No. 63 2 9484456; 09186434247

Fr. Sam’s emergency relief proposal for Marikina Rehabilitation Assistance is, in a nutshell, as follows: assistance for 60 member-families of Camillus MedHaven Community Based Rehabilitation Program for handicapped children of urban poor families in Marikina City.

For our readers, Fr. Sam offers an interesting and insightful analysis of disaster management.

“Disaster management has three important phases: (1) rescue and retrieval, (2) relief, (3) rehabilitation. The Red Cross and military, and of course government agencies, usually are the most equipped to operate rescue and retrieval operations. They also have the logistics, means and skills to mount swift evacuations which are part of the activities in rescue and retrieval mode in disaster management. Most organizations, “do good” groups, media outlets, church based organizations and individuals respond through provision of relief services, which is the second important phase in disaster management. Emotions such as sympathy, mercy, compassion or sense of collective responsibility drive relief services and when media outlets cease spotlighting affected areas and the situation ceases to evoke emotional positive responses, relief efforts subside down. Normally they last only a month or so. The harder part is phase 3 which is rehabilitation and development. Calamities, natural disasters, including wars and conflicts destroy infrastructures, including homes, livelihoods and inflict trauma on many.
The objective here is restoring what was damaged, lost or devastated – in a deliberate and planned manner. And most organizations, especially those who are driven by positive emotions evoked by disasters and calamities do not go into this kind of intervention. This requires longer commitment,  more resources, guiding objectives, operational and timeline plans,  monitoring and evaluation, budget estimates with phase in and phase out mechanisms. Some would conduct impact studies post-project. That is why rehabilitation interventions are mostly done as projects or as component programs. And this is what I have been doing, just to share with you my
experiences in Capas and Tarlac with the Aeta indigenous communities who were gravely affected and devastated by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

After positive emotions such as mercy and compassion were fully spent,  the Aeta tribal peoples, marginalized as they already are from mainstream society, receded from the national consciousness and have now been left to fend for themselves, if not forgotten. Rehabilitating what was lost takes years and for some even a lifetime of commitment until another disaster strikes again. Disasters and calamities are exogenous shocks; they impoverish communities. To rise out from impoverishment takes ten years for an affected household, according to Arsenio Balisacan, PhD, the foremost expert in poverty studies in the Philippines. Rehabilitation has to be seen from the optic of long term community development. Rehabilitation programs or projects therefore normally embed disaster preparedness for target communities for them to be able to cope well when another calamity strikes … I am feeling the CTF is driven by an inner desire to rethink, redefine and make more relevant the Camillian inspiration vis-à-vis disasters and calamities.

Fr. Sam A. Cuarto, MI

Let us continue to pray for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana and all the recent disasters in Asia – and for those that are helping.
Fr. Scott Binet MD,MI
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