6th January 2014
Patsy Zobel de Ayala, the Philippine Consul-General to the Monaco Principality reports on how donations from the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and others are helping victims of the typhoon that hit the island of Leyte last November.
"We managed to deliver 100 shelters, against all odds, before Christmas. It was difficult to find the materials to make up the shelters, roads were clogged up, ferries were breaking down and the weather was continuing to be REALLY bad. Flights into the island were canceled, and for the first time in my life I found myself taking the ferries' it was quite an adventure!
"The only location with supplies left in December was Manila, and Habitat for Humanity (the co-ordinating relief charity) said it was too far to transport all the way to Leyte. However, I found some truckers that were willing to take on the job of transporting the materials to Leyte, (knowing that there was a very high chance that they wouldn't make it back home by Christmas) with space enough for only for 100 shelters. Of course, the truckers never made it home for Christmas but when they saw the situation they were very happy to have been able to help out.
"To cut a long story short, we made 200 families very happy (they said that they were willing to share two families to a shelter), and by the time we arrived with the trucks, they were ready to start building immediately.
"We have now run into a new problem as the government is now saying that we are not allowed to donate to families that are near the sea or near rivers, as they want people to relocate. Luckily , our shelters can be broken down and transferred, so we have now been given the go ahead to proceed.
"Thanks to my diving connections (in the end, its always useful to know the diving community!) we have found another supplier in the nearer island of Bicol (only a day's drive away from Letye), they have promised us to have supplies for another 300 shelter within a week. In the meantime, Habitat has sent their people to double check our list for the next 300 recipients of the shelters, and they will also make sure to clear the political red-tape with the mayors in the area. They will also send in a team of carpenters to show them the best way to put up the shelters so that if needed, they can take the shelters with them to safer ground.
Thank you again for all your support. I can't tell you enough how grateful the families are."
To see the latest on the environment click HERE