Quick Update

Ok so it’s been over a 2 and a half weeks since our last post. Quite a lot has happened in that time and we’ve been meaning to update this blog but due to lack of Internet and spare time this hasn’t happened. The local infrastructure is still pretty spotty here since Yolanda hit but crews are working to fix the power and Internet connections, so hopefully we can keep posts a little more regular in the future…

So when we arrived in Tacloban on Thursday we had no idea what exactly to expect, seeing as it has been over three months since Yolanda hit. As we it closer to the ground it became clear that there was still a massive amount of work to be done. The airport itself proved to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of the area in general, functional yet ruined. The airport consisted of mostly roof with almost all of its externals walls extensively damaged or missing. The interior was very bare and there was nothing even closely resembling immigration, security or customs facilities. The baggage carrousel, despite being so badly damaged it was of no use whatsoever, was still used as the baggage handlers insisted on piling our bags up on top of the badly damaged structure instead of more conveniently placing them on the ground next to it.

That afternoon we met up with the organisation we will be working with for the next 6 weeks, International Disaster Volunteers (IDV). They currently have 7 other volunteers on site with plans to reach between 30-50 in the next few weeks. The seven onsite so far are:
Andy (CEO),
Daggy (Manager)
Dave (Manager),
Max (Manager),
Frieda (Manager),
Kiri and
James.
We’ve started to settle into our life in the IDV house which at the moment has no power or water and suffered some pretty extensive damage to the roof and several walls during the storm. Despite all this the house is one of the better ones in the area.

Now that were here on site we have gained a better understanding of the type of work we’ll be doing as well as the philosophy of IDV as an organisation. So far the plan for IDV is to work on various different projects simultaneously while partnering with other organisations to maximise efficiency. The projects consist of;
Community garden,
Community centre,
Soup kitchen feeding program,
Reconstruction of kitchen facilities at a local school,
Women’s livelihood program,
Construction of permanent housing and
Decommissioning of badly damaged buildings.

As we begin these projects we will be able to better understand the costs involved and in doing so we hope to provide our donors with more information about where there money is going.

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Today was an exciting day! We finally got to go shopping and spend some of the $1,841 that our friends and family have donated so far. We were pretty gutted that we can only take 20kg worth of baggage on the flight,which seems like a drop in the ocean, but at least its a start and we still have a huge amount of money left. Many of the things we still need to  can be bought in Tacloban and so the rest of the money will be spent locally, with the added benifit of stimulating the local economy.

Today we got some basic building and school supplies based on the wish list our volunteer agency IDVolunteers  gave us. We also have with us a few things generously donated by our family and friend back home such as pens, clothing, toys and art materials. We mentioned in an earlier post how we will be putting up photos and videos of what the donations have bought along with a dedication to those who donated the money. So here we go with the first dedications…

P1070625

Donated by Selina and Jessy. Thanks to your donations we were able to purchase school and art supplies for several classes including over 300 coloured and lead pencils, 1000 sheets of paper, rulers, erasers, sharpeners, scissors, glue and a stapler!

Donated by Renee R. At first it might seem trivial but for many in the worst hit areas of the Philippines seeds are expensive and in short supply and growing vegetables is one of the most cost effective ways of providing healthy and nutritious food in the long run. Thanks to your donation we have obtained Pumpkin, Capsicum, Carrot, Cucumber, Tomato, Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Peas. We will be flying to Tacloban tomorrow so 

We are flying to Tacloban tomorrow where we will officially  begin our journey as disaster volunteers. Things are about to start happening  so keep checking back here to get the latest!!!

If you haven’t already done so and would like to donate to this cause check out our donation page by clicking the link below.

http://www.youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/help-us-help-the-philippines/137424

Next Stop Manila…

 

After much anticipation and preparation it was finally time to make our move to the Philippines. We had two flights and an 8 hour layover in Singapore’s Chiangi Airport between us and Manila, all of which ran very smooth despite the lack of sleep! We arrived in Manila at 6am after almost 24 hours in transit and proceeded to the immigration desk.

Unsure of what the immigration officer would say to our plan to stay for 7 weeks (instead of the standard 30 days) we approached the desk and were unexpectedly greeted with a smile as she took our documents. As she read through our immigration cards she looked up and asked where we were staying and the reason for our trip. After giving her the details of the organisation she asked us to wait whilst she spoke to her supervisor. She returned after a short while and informed us that they were happy to grant us the visa extension with no fee or need to visit the embassy. Although this is not uncommon for volunteers it felt like she had gone out of her way to help us and as we walked away she thanked us and said “we appreciate your help”. Wow! Those few words and the sincerity in her face gave us a lump in our throats, the reality of what we are about to experience and the realisation of some of the things we are likely to see is starting to feel more real.

Just 3 days to go until we make our way to Tacloban, just enough time to go and spend some of the money we have raised so far on school and hardware supplies.

 

International Disaster Volunteers (IDV), Typhoon Haiyan Response

International Disaster Volunteers (IDV), Typhoon Haiyan Response

This is the company we will be working with in Tacloban and some information on their efforts.

Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, was one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall. The storm has displaced more than 4 million people, affected 13 million, and killed over 4,000. 

We’re currently working in close partnership with local Filipino organisations to deliver relief to the hardest hit areas. As we support local relief efforts we’re also assessing how we can best help with the huge need for longer-term reconstruction and recovery. 

Our early focus on supporting local groups, and our careful consideration of communities long-term needs are essential to our proven model of supporting survivor-directed, sustainable recovery. Recovery from Haiyian will take years, and, with your support, we’ll be there every step of the way.

Tacloban Relief Fundraising Site

Tacloban Relief Fundraising Site

Tacloban Relief Fundraising Site

This is the link to the fundraising webpage that we set up for the disaster relief in the Philippines. So far we’ve managed to raise over $1000 which is an amazing effort. If you want to get behind us and help out by donating please do so by following the link or by contacting us below.

The website charges no fees whatsoever and we also take nomoney out for any of our costs, however, Paypal charges a 2.5% processing fee. Get behind this cause and donate whatever you can. Even a dollar makes a world of difference. If you do decide to donate any money you can check back here to see what your money is being spent on, with lots of photos and videos to come.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who has donated so far!

About us

We are a English/Australian couple travelling together for …erm um well…its complicated. We initially met in Vietnam in 2012 and travelled together for 3 weeks before I (Ruth) had to return home to the normality of my life in England. After 6 months of sporadic contact we decided we had still had enough interest in each other to travel together. During that 6 months Matt continued to travel through Asia, The middle East and then ended up in England. So it is now February and that was June. Our trip started with a £50 flight to Amsterdam and no plan whatsover, not even a bed for the night. That was pretty much how things went for the next 3 months. When in The Netherlands we hitched a ride and realised we had just travelled 100kms FOR FREE, so over the next few months we developed a mutual love for being tight arses through hitching lifts, couchsurfing, camping and cooking on what was little more than a trangia and living on a budget that averaged about €13 a day. Before we realised, we had made it all the way to Istanbul completing our 5000km hitch hiking journey.

The next leg of our trip took us back to the start where we met, Asia. This brought us to December and after 15 months of Matt travelling (with 2 short breaks in between ) it was time for him to ‘pop’ home to see the family and friends for Christmas before we started our road trip of the east coast of Australia.  During the road trip we stumbled upon a video made by a guy named Casey Neistat, an American film director, producer and youtube sensation. Casey was approached by 20th Century Fox to make a promotional video for one of their movies, instead he asked if he could take the entire budget to the philippines and use it for the relief efforts (check the vid here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU7rhVub0rU ). It was after watching this video that we decided we should do something more then just simply travel.

Fast forward a few weeks and on Sunday 16th February we’re heading to the Philippines to volunteer with the relief efforts. We will be arriving in Manilla on Monday morning then come Wednesday we fly to the devastated city of Tacloban where we will be spending the next 6 weeks. We have also started an online fundraising drive to raise money for the organisation who we will be volunteering with, which will be posted on this blog shortly. 

Hopefully we can find the time to keep this blog updated with our journey in the Philippines. If you would like more information on anything we’re doing, including how to donate to the cause don’t hesitate.