Tag Archives: Super Typhoon Haiyan

Jordan Guernsey: loss of a hero

I am currently in Manila with Allen Renquist and Andrew Sullivan. We are here to to thank all our Stop Hunger Now Philippines friends and supporters and take part in the induction of the new Board of Trustees for the organization. We leave here on Sunday to go to Bangalore, India to help facilitate the opening of a new Stop Hunger Now office there.

What should be a totally positive trip has had a pall cast over it for us, especially me. While enroute to the Philippines we learned that Stop Hunger Now friend and supporter, Jordan Guernsey had lost his ongoing battle with cancer. This is a blow to all of us. Jordan was our friend. His life was too short.

What made the news of Jordan’s loss cut even deeper was that the last time Allen and I were in the Philippines Jordan was with us. We were responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan and Jordan was part of our team.

Jordan and I met at the Sundance Film Festival a couple years ago. I spoke at an EO Banquet and he was in the audience. After my presentation he and his lovely wife, Paola, came up to talk. Jordan’s enthusiasm, optimism, and love of life couldn’t be hid. It was immediately obvious the two of us were kindred spirits and reading from the same script.

His first words were, “You are the first speaker I have ever heard that really understands that we really can change the world.” That was Jordan. He had an unwavering belief in the power of living every day to the fullest, doing everything possible to make a real and positive difference in the world, and truly believed that by working together we can end hunger in our lifetime.

We were instant friends. Jordan immediately began supporting Stop Hunger Now, and was instrumental in opening our office in Salt Lake City. The entire time I knew him he was battling cancer, yet he never slowed down in his efforts to impact the needs he saw around him. Financially successful at an early age, Jordan realized the difference between success and significance.

Jordan’s optimism was infectious. His love and compassion were genuine. He understood that by working together we can achieve our shared vision of far better world. And even though his life was too brief by far, Jordan was a hero. He lived his life to the fullest, and he will be missed.

back from the Philippines

It’s almost 8am and the temperature is a balmy 15 degrees. It’s quite a change from the heat of the Philippines, yet it is always good to be back in the states after a trip abroad.

Allen and I returned late Saturday after seven days of work in the Philippines. I admit I was feeling rough and dragging a little by the time we got back to Raleigh. I was also fighting a cold and bad throat. I slept for 14 hours straight and then napped even more Sunday afternoon. I slept well again last night and am now again feeling human.

It was a good trip. In fact, it was an excellent trip. We accomplished all we had set out to do, and even more.

  • We were able to assess the extent of the typhoon damage and see the desperate need in one of the impacted areas in northern Cebu.
  • We were able to meet with numerous Philippine partners to help coordinate ongoing relief efforts.
  • We coordinated the distribution of the million & a half Stop Hunger Now meals arriving to help feed typhoon victims
  • We delivered over 1100 Sawyer water filters for distribution in the impacted areas.
  • We were able to share quality time with one of our supporters and allow him to see the impact of our work in the field.
  • We spent time with Tiki Keh, the Executive Director of Stop Hunger Now Malaysia.
  • We participated along with almost 500 volunteers in a 120,000 Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event totally organized and run by Philippine Rotarians.
  • We deepened our partnership with Wine to Water and again demonstrated the power of working together for the greater good.

We live in a world growing ever more depersonalized, Electronic communication often replaces everything else.  Being with our friends in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates that there are times, however, when nothing compares to personal relationships and caring enough to be present.

 

doing it the right way

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.