December 31st, 2013 Posted in Philippines, RD's Journal | No Comments »
Written by Cherian Mathews, Regional Director of Oxfam Great Britain in Asia.
There was a heavy downpour in Tacloban when Oxfam just started its hygiene kit distribution. There were around 500 people who had had been identified and given prior tokens for distribution. Unlike in rural areas where often there are public place like school campuses etc to deliver aid, the relief operations are complex in areas like Tacloban city which are heavily populated.
The relief truck was parked on the side of a busy road. There were community volunteers who managed the traffic and made sure that there was enough space for distribution. I checked with one of my colleagues whether we needed to stop the distribution for a while. “Rain or sunshine we will continue the distribution. Once it’s started we will not stop. The communities will cooperate with us.” He quipped. In that heavy rain, people queued up patiently as the Oxfam staff / volunteers continued the distribution. In a matter of one hour, they finished the distribution. My colleague was right. I was amazed by the perseverance and understanding of both the communities and staff.
Hygiene kit distribution coupons. Photo by Jane Beesley / Oxfam
This was my second visit to Typhoon ravaged areas just before Christmas. My previous visit was to the northern part of Cebu province and Bantayan Island. As soon as I landed at the Tacloban airport, I could witness the extent of the devastation. With the tireless work of airport authorities and airline staff, commercial flights were operational. Roads had been cleared of debris and markets had revived. A major mall just reopened. Electricity and water supply had been restored. More »