A Letter from Priscilla and Bart Kelso
January 8, 2014
Today marks the second month since the most powerful and destructive typhoon on record devastated the central islands of the Philippines — over 6,000 dead, 2,000 missing, I million homes destroyed, 4 million displaced. You responded in several ways — through clothing donations and funds for shipping costs, donations to Project C.U.R.E. , funds to support a health clinic in one of the central islands, financial aid for students at Silliman University who lost family members and livelihood in the islands of Leyte and Samar. Thank you for your continuing prayers, long after the typhoon is no longer in the news cycle of international disasters. Here are some updates:
- Bart and I shall have sent 10 big boxes of donated clothing by the end of this month. They will be distributed by church groups to survivors in Leyte and towns in Northern Cebu. Those who survived the storm lost everything. Several of my relatives who were spared the fury of the storm are helping with the distribution process.
- Project C.U.R.E. (www.projectcure.org ) has sent two 20-foot container vans of medical supplies and equipment to a heavily-damaged hospital in Tacloban, Leyte, the epicenter of the storm. This hospital continues to see hundreds of patients a day despite overwhelming limitations and welcomes the arrival of donated emergency supplies and equipment.
- The funds for financial aid to students in need at Silliman University, where Bart and I have done volunteer work recently, will be used specifically to help senior students graduate this March. This Presbyterian school is committed to finding ways of keeping 200 college students in school despite the incalculable loss of their homes and their parents’ livelihood.
- In one of the islands that the typhoon missed by 15 miles, there is a grassroots health clinic that needs basic medical supplies and is run by volunteer doctors and nurses. Bart and I are advocating for this Christian-based outreach to rural folks with no access to medical care. Some of you designated your financial contributions for this on-going project with a future.
What to pray for in this period of rebuilding and reconstruction: The United Nations estimates that the recovery period for a disaster of this magnitude is 5 to 6 years, so the Philippines has barely just begun. These are some of the immediate needs:
- That the primary need for shelter be made available to the thousands of displaced families
- That those on the ground who are helping (doctors, social workers, nurses, volunteers) will be given the strength to persevere, as they too have to deal with their own trauma
- That honest government officials handling foreign aid will put the people’s welfare first
- That the survivors will not lose hope in the midst of unimaginable loss and tragedy