Why and How to Support the Victims of Hurricane Haiyan in the Philippines

Photo of the GEH footbridge wiped out by Hurricane Haiyan

Photo of the GEH footbridge wiped out by Hurricane Haiyan

Some of you know that I am a Filipino-American. I was born and raised in the Philippines and came to the US when I was 14 years old. The US is now my home but my dad and countless relatives still live in the Philippines. So you can imagine how the devastation from Hurricane Haiyan has hit me and my family hard. BTW, in the Philippines, Haiyan was called Typhoon Yolanda.

People have asked me why there is so much devastation and I think there are two main reasons:

Hurricane Haiyan was the most powerful typhoone/hurricane every recorded. The entire country was covered in storm clouds (that would be like one storm system covering the entire Eastern seaboard). When you have winds that top 200 mph, you’re going to have damage and if you add tidal surges, you’ll get even more.

Disasters in developing countries produce more damage. While in college, I took a class called Earthquakes and Man. Professor Abernathy made the point that earthquakes produce so much more damage in developing countries because they don’t have the building codes, the resources and the construction industry to produce building that will withstand natural disasters. Yes, hurricanes hit towns in US hard, but they don’t usually kill hundreds or thousands of people.

During this holiday season, I’m hoping that you’ll reach into your wallets and support the many, many victims of Haiyan. If you’re wondering how to support the victims, here is my list:

  • GreenEarth Heritage (GEH) Foundation Philippines is a non-profit run by a friend of my sister, mom and cousin. GEH supports families and farmers who are committed to sustainable agriculture. Haiyan wiped out their operations. Here’s my sister’s fundraising page; she’s trying to raise $50,000 for GEH; use this link and you’ll get a tax receipt.
  • My aunt helps run the Ayala Foundation, which is a prominent non-profit in the Philippines that focuses on nutrition and infrastructure projects. You can make a donation to this local organization through their Donate page.
  • I have always admired the work on the Red Cross. You can support the Red Cross Philippines, which is one of the leading relief organizations in Leyte province right now.
  • An easy way to give is through the mGive Foundation, which is collecting money for many organizations. Simply send a text and your wireless carrier will send money. For example, you can text the word AID to short code 50555 to give a $10 donation to Operation USA. Texting different words will benefit different organizations. Note that this is NOT the fastest way to provide support, because funds can take weeks or months to be remitted but every little bit helps.
  • TIME Magazine has a list of ways to support the victims in the Philippines.

How much to give? To give you some perspective, GEH says:

  • $25 feeds a family of four for a month – I’ve spent $25 on one lunch for two people!
  • $150 pays for a child’s education for a whole year – I think I spent that much for a fancy dress last month!

I know this sounds corny, but when terrible things like this happen in the Philippines, I wonder how I got to be so lucky that I’m here and the victims are over there. I’m grateful that my entire family is safe.

I hope you’ll join me this holiday season and give generously to the survivors of Hurricane Haiyan. If you can, how about a $150 gift, or more, to educate a child for a year?