The outpouring of love, concern, caring and sharing in the past days for those affected and afflicted by Yolanda has been nothing short of miraculous. I have tried to do my share, miniscule to what others have put in who have generously contributed, some out of their abundance, others out of their very existence. I am thinking of and praying for . . . .
- A friend, who has retired and is now working with a famous NGO. She celebrated her birthday and asked her friends to donate to a relief fund she was putting together instead of gifting her. And she pledged to match what her friends would be able to put together. She was able to raise more than half a million pesos which she contributed to the rebuilding efforts in the Visayas.
- Another friend, whose daughter works as a community organizer in Busuanga which was razed to the ground by the typhoon. He organizes an relief effort to immediately bring food packages to the place, which was being overlooked and being missed out on because most efforts were directed at bigger towns and cities. With his family, they are able to send thousands of food bags through a speedboat sourced through serendipitous connections. Now, he is spearheading an effort to provide new boats and bancas to the folks of Busuanga whose main livelihood is fishing.
- Still another friend, with an unsinkable sense of humor. He loves to engage in outrageous antics to get people to laugh. But beyond his air of flippancy, he was among the first ones to volunteer to help in the ‘salubong‘ at Villamor Airbase organized for evacuees from Tacloban seeking refuge in Manila.
- A barber in Guiuan Samar loses his small barbershop, puts up a makeshift one after the storm and people start coming not so much for haircuts but to vent their feelings and the trauma they have experienced in a familiar setting and with familiar faces – the village barber shop.
- A psychiatrist-friend goes to war-torn Zamboanga, all but forgotten because of the devastation in other places, comes upon “118 diagnosed PTSD patients, 5168 public school teachers and social workers traumatized, children displaced needing intervention beyond psychological first aid” – a veritable epidemic. She makes sure they are not forgotten nor neglected in the face of the other calamities being faced by the nation.
- A doctor son, putting in twelve hours a day at the hospital caring for sick children, many in very serious conditions for life goes on in areas not afflicted by Yolanda. People go about their daily grind, earning a living, raisng children and getting sick, and he has a wedding to prepare for. Love in the time of cholera and other disasters.
Life is meant for the giving. I envy these people for they have given so much more than my own feeble efforts. Yet, I am grateful, humbled, inspired and awed that what I have fondly wished to have been able to do, others have done earlier, faster, in bigger amounts and in a better manner than I could possible have managed myself. This is the thread of humanity that binds us all together. When the chips are down, the natural impulse of people is to reach out and help. Where usually they would get and grab for themselves, there are moments like these where people simply reach out and give.
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”