It’s a little after 1530 here in Cebu City. I know the date is Wednesday, 11/20/13 because I saw a local paper this morning. If not for that I honestly would not have a clue. Between 30 straight hours of travel, a 13 hour time difference, and a full 19 hour day yesterday…well, details tend to be a bit blurry.
What I do know is that I am so glad we are all here. I am so proud of our Stop Hunger Now team. And I am always totally energized by being in the field and seeing our partners in action. To simply state they do great work is totally insufficient. The work our partners are doing in response to Super Typhoon Haiyan is simply amazing. They are true heroes.
Yesterday, we left our hotel at 0430 to fly to Cebu. Once we checked into our hotel we were met by our wonderful Feed the Hungry partners. They graciously agreed to take us into the typhoon impacted areas.
Although time constraints and high winds prohibited us from seeing some of the most devastated areas, we toured northern Cebu for over ten hours trying to assess the extent of the devastation and to get a feel for the needs of the survivors. By the time we returned to Cebu City, had dinner and a final get together to wrap up the day, it was almost 2200 when I finally turned out the light.
Seeing the extent of the damage caused by this massive storm puts the news reports into perspective. According to the World Food Program, there are still over 2.5 million in desperate need of food. And during our journey yesterday we saw so many women, men and children, all with their hands outstretched. All of them were begging us to stop and give them food. That, however is only a small part of the real need.
The typhoon survivors also need shelter. Even when buildings and homes were not totally flattened, the roofs were peeled away like the skins of rotten oranges.
They need drinking water. Long lines waited wherever there was a truck caring clean water.
The survivors need power. Some regions have been told they might have electricity restored by Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!
They need to have a way to earn a livelihood. Commercial fishing is never easy. It’s significantly more difficult if your boat is more splinters than solid wood.
Stop Hunger Now began as a crisis relief organization. For years now our approach to ending hunger has been far more strategic as we attempt systemic change. But crisis relief is in our DNA. And being here actively involved in responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan (also locally known as Typhoon Yolanda) feels right. We are making a difference far beyond just the value of our donations of food and other necessary relief supplies.
Our presence here demonstrates that we truly are partners, that we care, and that we will do whatever it takes to help the survivors recover from the recent horror. I might not know what day it is, but I definitely know that we are doing the right thing. And we are doing it in the right way.