By Fr. Scott Binet
People are still suffering from the effects of Typhoon Ketsana and the other disasters that have struck the Philippines since that fateful day in late September 2009. New Government data and detailed assessments by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) show that the overall number of people in need stands at 4.2 million out of the 10 million people affected in all areas. Those in need include more than 520,000 children under the age of five. Of particular concern for humanitarian agencies are the estimated 1.7 million people still displaced or living in areas that remain flooded. These areas are likely to remain flooded for another three or four months, putting those affected at serious risk of disease outbreaks. The effects have been devastating.
The CTF in the Philippines together with SOS DRS, members of the Order of the Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians), and donors in the US , Canada and elsewhere have been providing relief for victims – particularly those in the areas of Buso-Buso, Cainta and Marikina. The relief effort in Marikina headed up by Fr. Sam Cuarto is one example of the good work of CTF Philippines.
CTF Philippines – under the guidance Fr. Charley Ricafort and with the support of his fellow Camillians, all of the Province that is led by Fr. Ivo Anselmi – is now poised to expand its relief efforts. And CTF Philippines will do so with the collaboration of CTF Central, Salute e Sviluppo and the Italian Episcopal Conferecnce. This collaboration came about in large part due to the providential presence in Manila of Fratel Luca Perletti. He was there around the time when Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines.
Brother Luca together with CTF Philippines and CTF Central soon submitted a relief project to the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) in Rome, Italy. The project title is ” Emergency and Post Emergency Relief Program for Typhoon Ketsana Victims (Local Name: Ondoy)” and is directed at responding to the rapid response and continuous support phase of the emergency (phases I and II). The project is of relatively short duration (anything less than six months is still considered an emergency project by the CEI). The following sector(s) will be covered by the project:
- Food Security, Nutrition and Food items
- Non-food items
- Health services (medicines) and provision of medical check-ups
- Restoration of spoiled medical equipment [at a Camillian facility]
Geographical areas covered include:
- Antipolo City
- Pasig City
- Marikina City, Metro Manila
The beneficiaries include 2,592 families (approx.12,645 individuals) coming from the following prioritized areas.
- Sitio Old Busu-Buso
- Dulong Parola, Cainta, Rizal
- Balubad in Barangay Nangka
Interim and final reports will be produced for the project whose total budget is in excess of 100,000 euros.
Here is a slightly modified version of the project summary as submitted to the CEI in mid-October.
Typhoon Ketsana severely affected many parts of the Philippines leaving behind death and destruction. The initial mortality figures continue to rise as search and rescue operations are still continuing. The effects of the typhoon will cost the country a huge amount of money because of damages to infrastructure and agriculture. Data on the immense destruction are: 228 people killed by Ondoy; P5.2 billion is the estimated financial damage; 10,214 is the number of houses destroyed or damaged; 3.2 million are the affected people.
The Camillians immediately responded to the Typhoon by taking an active role in addressing the plight of the affected people, especially those living in the neighborhoods of our communities in Metro Manila, namely: Nuestra Señora de la Anunciata Parish (Buso-Buso); St. Camillus Polyclinic (Pasig City) and Camillus Medhaven (Marikina City). In taking this active stand, Camillians have gained everybody’s appreciation and many individuals have voluntarily donated goods and food to the Camillians, knowing that they would distribute them to those in need. The relief work carried out by the Camillians falls under the coordination of the local Camillian Task Force, a group established to coordinate the Camillian response to natural and man–made calamities. The Camillian Task Force has its headquarters in Rome, which also provides some financial help for disasters. Camillian Task Force Central has already donated €15,000.00 to an initial disaster relief fund.
Camillians already have a strategy
CTF Philippines has as its priority providing help to the victims through giving food items, non-food items and basic medicines. They will continue helping until the victims are able to procure sufficient goods for their own maintenance needs (one month or more). Special care will be provided to children whose basic needs may be neglected. Our facilities – Camillus Medhaven in particular – run projects for disabled children, both on its premises and at home (home – based care). The Typhoon worsened their problems, and thus they will be given more attention.
Phase 1 of the relief effort
As the first stage unfolds, the Camillians will mobilize medical teams from their polyclinics (St. Camillus Polyclinic [Pasig] and St. Camillus Polyclinic [Antipolo City]) that were also affected by the flooding. The medical teams will reach out to the stranded population and will provide medical checkups and treatment with a special attention to avoiding the onset of epidemics. This will be an ongoing project until the displaced persons can return to a relatively normal life. As the days pass, in fact, there is greater risk of epidemics. Many areas have not yet been cleared of debris and dead animals, and a disgusting stench pollutes the place. Camillians, known for their commitment to health, consider their responsibility to be to provide appropriate medical care through reaching out to people before they are in need of hospital admission. Even accessing hospitals is not an easy task to many dwellers of poor urban settlements though. In fact, many of the people have lost their jobs which exacerbates income difficulties and lessens the amount on which they can count. Expenses for medications are low on their agenda, even more so when they are for preventing diseases. The Camillian medical teams will travel from settlement to settlement in order to care for the sick and to educate others on how to prevent infectious diseases (especially those water-borne). Local Camillian polyclinics will also be open to cater to the needs of those who may require greater care.
As part of the aims of this phase, the medical equipment of the St. Camillus Polyclinic in Pasig will require maintenance and replacement. In fact, the massive wave of mud and water that flooded the facility resulted in permanent damage to the x-ray machine, the ultrasound equipment and other instruments. This caused the facility to stop its services, which are much-needed now – in view of the location of the polyclinic: in fact it serves the population in Pasig, one of the worst hit areas.
The last part of the project will include the rehabilitation of a number of families through providing them with housing and proper resources. This third phase of the project is not included in this proposal (Phase III).
The Camillian Task Force has sent an appeal to the Camillian communities worldwide. They are starting to respond by sending some financial assistance and as such empowering the local Camillians to respond to the many needs of the victims.
The local Camillian Task Force is now requesting the Italian Episcopal Conference for a special grant in order to provide assistance to the victims in phases I and II of its strategy.
The budget for this emergency relief effort is PHP10,050,000.00. Camillians are expecting financial support from their counterparts in other Countries and have already received €15,000.00 from the main office in Rome.
Section II. Project Rationale and Camillian Task Force Capacities
The proposed program aims to provide for the basic emergency needs (Phase I) and the continuous medical support (Phase II) of the 2,592 vulnerable families and typhoon victims. This intervention falls under the category of “humanitarian assistance”.
Camillian Task Force Philippines has provided disaster relief on several occasions, though in a simple and spontaneous way and with limited resources. The establishment of a central office in Rome is contributing to the strengthening of the local Camillian Task Force that, in turn, can now provide better and varied services.
The Camillian Task Force in the Philippines has responded to various calamities:
December 2004: relief goods were distributed for the victims of typhoon Winnie and Yoyong in Quezon Province; Adult formands participated in St. Camillus Polyclinic (Pasig) Medical Mission in Quezon Province.
March 17, 2006: relief goods were given to Fr. Aris Miranda for the Leyte tragedy.
December 2006: victims of Super Typhoon Reming in Brgy. Salvacion, Sto. Domingo, Albay [Philippines] received monies for their fishing livelihood.
June 2008: in the wake of Cyclone Frank, CTF Philippines and its collaborators served the medical and dental needs of 400 people on Isla de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo Province.
The positive results of these Camillian responses to emergencies have motivated many individuals who consider Camillians as reliable and efficient players in relief work: many donate voluntarily and support the work of the Camillians. Some of our communities have become centers for storing goods to be then distributed to affected people.
Camillians can also count on the staff of their medical facilities that are often mobilized to affected areas. Camillians, hence, are good at providing health-related services.
Section III. Beneficiaries
The beneficiaries – victims of Typhoon Ketsana – are generally families that live in informal settlements and in urban and poor areas that surround our communities or are in our parishes (Buso-Buso). The help is offered regardless of their religious affiliation.
In terms of criteria, it is already the prerogative of each respective Social Action Center as to how they will select their own beneficiaries because NASSA recognizes the autonomy of each partner. Criteria for help:
- The beneficiary belongs to a settlement, which was actually hit by a disaster or declared to be in a state of calamity by the government
- There is mass dislocation of people and the damages are extensive
- Survivors that are least assisted or not even reached out to by government and other welfare agencies
- Preference is given to poor families with no regular income and with highly vulnerable members, e.g., infants, children, sick and aged, and lactating mothers.
- Beneficiaries are registered and aid is given to recognized families
Section IV. Timing and activities
Camillian Task Force Philippines will focus on conducting relief assistance through the provision of emergency relief goods (rice, medicines, sleep/shelter materials, kitchen utensils) until the victims are stabilized. In two weeks time (i.e. mid-November) medical teams will be sent to evacuation camps to care for the health of the victims and detect/prevent epidemics.
We plan to wind up these two phases (I and II) by the end of November/December 2009.
Section V. Relief Items
- Canned goods
- Milk powder
- Mineral water
- KITCHEN UTENSILS
(pails, rice pots, frying pans, ladles, forks and spoons, drinking glasses, kettles, plates)
- School items
Sleeping & personal hygiene materials
Each family will receive a blanket, mosquito net, sleeping mat, underwear (6 pcs. for girls and 6 for boys), laundry and bath soaps, toothpaste and a toothbrush, shampoo, and candles.
- MEDICINES (over the counter medicines for common illnesses such as fever, cold, pain, diarrhea, skin rash cream, vitamin C, antibiotics, etc.)
- Maintenance and replacement of radiological equipment [Pasig]
Section VI. Personnel and Logistics
Most of the work will be carried out by Camillians and their collaborators.
The staff of our facilities will also be involved and made to take part in specific relief work.
The relief operation staff will coordinate the procurement and distribution of goods from the Camillian communities and staff. They will also take charge of the monitoring and reporting.
The operations will be coordinated within Camillian communities and our means of transport will be made use of.
Let us continue to pray for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana and those helping them.
If you would like to support CTF Philippines in its relief efforts, click here.