With a death toll past 2,300 and more than 600,000 people displaced, the Philippines are still reeling from Typhoon Haiyan, which decimated the eastern part of the country on November 8. As the country struggles to provide medical care and food for the thousands affected, the Waterloo Region-based Mennonite Central Committee has launched a fundraising initiative for relief efforts.
“For the people that it did impact, it is every bit as destructive as any of the disasters that we’ve dealt with in the modern era of MCC,” said Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC.
“If you have lost your water source, your food source, and your shelter – and possibly family members – then whether the storm had that impact on 10,000 people or a million, the impact on your community is just as severe.”
The organization, known for its relief work in places like Haiti in the aftermath of its 2010 hurricane, will be calling on longstanding partnership in the Philippines to aid with food, shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
“We don’t have any workers specifically based in the Philippines. But these partnership organizations with whom we did work for many years are the strength on the ground who allowed us to decide very quickly that we were going to respond,” said Bauman.
The MCC will use donations not only for emergency response, but also for long-term reconstruction efforts.
“We do not see ourselves as the Red Cross or the army that have equipment we do not have access to for making that very first response,” explained Bauman. “We see ourselves as more long-term … to clean up, to rebuild, even if we weren’t the first ones to bring a bottle of clean water.”
At the moment, the MCC is still determining how best to go about emergency relief efforts, given the devastated nature of the country.
“It’s complicated by the fact that transportation routes are impeded, so even when goods can be brought in the region to get right to the final beneficiary, that’s really, really difficult,” said Bauman.
The MCC will accept donations at mcco.ca, at 519-745-8458 (or toll-free 1-800-313-6226), or at any of their thrift stores, including the Elmira location at 59 Church St. W.
MCC is also one of the eligible charities to have its donations matched by the federal government before December 9. It will also continue collecting donations after that day.