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MyPAL 2013 Christmas Rice Fund


As you may know every Christmas we raise funds to give a little something to our MyPALs, their families and the "street" people in the Philippines.  This year may be a little bleak for them because all of our saved up funds went to help them recover from the Haiyan Typhoon and that is still an ongoing project.

Sometimes I feel we as the privileged people of the western world often loose site of just how good we have it compared to the rest of the world.  Sure we may struggle to pay our bills each month, yet consider where we have spent our wages.  Think of the homes we live in, the food we eat, the cars we drive and then read below about people in other parts of the world and be thankful we live where we live.

So instead of thinking about what Santa will bring you this Christmas, think about what you can do to bring the joy of just being able to have food and maybe some shelter to a family in another culture.  It is said that the joy of giving is by far the best gift you can give yourself.

Below are some of the stories Mike deals with on a daily basis and consider the emotional strength it takes to do all that one can to help his fellow man and know that he can not help everyone, without your help.

Gary

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I don’t know what to do, other than to try to make an appeal on behalf of our MyPALs for some Christmas rice.  I have people asking as we have always provided something, but this year is going to be really tough on the eve of the typhoon, relief efforts have focused on those areas hardest hit, leaving the people "out of the way"… "out of the way" and having to cope with typical holiday needs.

You can read the article below for background on how bad things are in the typhoon areas, but they are also typical for areas not recently hit that must cope with the fallout, in large part by paying for rice that is 50% more expensive than it was this time last year in some areas.


One month after super typhoon, Philippines faces huge challenges
  By Agence France-Presse

A month after one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded hit the Philippines, masses of survivors are living amid rubble in rebuilt shanty homes and experts say reconstructing destroyed communities will take years.

The sight of people sleeping and cooking in wasteland towns highlights the overwhelming problems as an initial, frenzied emergency relief effort transforms into one focused on long-term rehabilitation.

"A lot of people have received emergency assistance, but this is just the beginning," Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the worst-hit city of Tacloban, told AFP.

The Philippines endures more than 20 major storms a year but Super Typhoon Haiyan was the most destructive on record, with at least 5,796 people killed and another 1,779 missing, according to government data.

Haiyan also made history as having the strongest winds ever recorded to make landfall, striking the eastern island of Samar with gusts of 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour.

But surprise storm surges proved to be more devastating than the winds, sending walls of water up to two stories high through dozens of mostly poor coastal communities on Samar and neighbouring Leyte island.

More than a million homes were damaged or destroyed, while water rushed through schools and other supposedly safe coastal buildings used as evacuation centres, killing many people sheltering there.

Permanent homes a top priority


Cochrane said one of the top priorities, exactly one month after Haiyan struck on November 8, was building new homes and communities for roughly 500,000 families.

But with the process expected to take up to five years and cost billions of dollars, many people have already left evacuation centres and started the rebuilding themselves, often using salvaged material.

In Tacloban, 81-year-old Gnerio Trinidad sat at the weekend inside her tiny wooden home that was rebuilt on stilts above a putrid swamp of debris, as her neighbours threw broken furniture and shattered coconut trees onto a fire.

"I’m afraid that another typhoon will come, but there’s nowhere else to go… if the government gives us another place to live, we will move," Trinidad said as her three grandchildren played in the house.

In a neighbouring district, 18-year-old Ronnie Melaflor had recently finished erecting a makeshift Christmas tree using a bamboo pole and tinsel. It stood on broken concrete and tiles next to his family’s wooden hut.

"We can’t put a tree inside, but I still want to celebrate Christmas," said Melaflor, who escaped the devastation wrought upon his community by sheltering with his seven siblings and parents in a nearby school.

Outside of the cities, the government and relief workers are rushing to help tens of thousands of farmers who lost their livelihoods in the storm.

The next rice harvest must be planted this month, so urgent programmes are underway to clear farms of debris, fix irrigation channels and get seeds out to remote areas.

"This is a huge issue for food security… it’s going to be an enormous challenge to meet the deadline," Ian Bray, a spokesman for international charity Oxfam, told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of people will also need some form of help to address the mental trauma of living through what many in the mainly Catholic country have likened to hell.

"In a disaster like this it’s not just about meeting the physical reconstruction needs, it’s about addressing the mental scars," said International Federation of the Red Cross spokesman Patrick Fuller.

Church services on Sunday were part of that healing process, with survivors listening to sermons focused on hope and resilience.

"Whatever hardships and sufferings we have had, we should try to move on and forget and start all over again," Father Isagani Petilos told a morning mass at Tacloban’s Santo Nino Church, which still has missing windows and holes in its roof.

"We have to learn to accept what happened in our lives, and we can still hope that there’s a beautiful life ahead."

But candlelight prayer vigils at mass graves as night fell, to commemorate one month since the disaster, showed the priest’s advice would be impossible for many to follow.

Hundreds turned up at the grave sites to light candles and chant prayers in unison, including Irish Ann Maraya, a 20-year-old nanny who lost her parents, sister, aunt and an uncle.

"I came to pray that their souls will rest in peace," Maraya said.


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Relief efforts from around the world were sent to the Philippines.  Unfortunately, most of the donations never ended up helping those who needed it the most as the following newspaper clipping shows:

Philippine Aid Scandal, part 1

Philippine Aid Scandal, part 2

Our money goes directly into their hands, we don’t take any out…

If you want, I can earmark your donation for a special person. I have at least 100 requests right now, everything from food, school, medicine, funerals, pregnancy, you name it…

I am talking with someone on chat right now, who is in very bad shape.

This is the worst problem of poverty… the pure lack of choices for single women 🙁

"now im finish go to dr. i cant take pic.bcoz i go only one
im lonely today im very very poor
i want to give up my self i want die"

Keep in mind, this person’s sister and mother died within two weeks of each other last year.

But worse, she had an unwanted baby, which I encouraged her to keep.

5 months ago, her 8 year-old daughter died.

She has herself and only her 1 year old baby boy.

That was her conversation this morning.  She is sick right now, and it’s her birthday.

She was a street girl when we found her.  We helped her daughter with dengue, only for her to die this year of pneumonia.  She would always text me, and call me tito Mike… and she was a very upbeat and precocious little girl, always borrowing her mother’s cell phone to text me from time to time to ask for a few pesos for her school projects, which we happily gave.

This is their life… it’s living them, like us; only we have choices they will never have.

If you want, I’ll send your funds to her for her birthday.


Mike
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If we don’t help them:
— They lose their house,
— Their kids have to stop school,
— They don’t eat,
— They don’t get treated for TB,
— Their kids don’t get nutrition, they have to buy them sugar water (yes, that is what the poor feed their kids)…
— Some have to quit school because they can’t pay for exams or projects,
— Their parents get sicker,
–Their babies get sick and go to hospital… and die,
— They can’t apply for jobs or get their fees paid to go overseas and work…

This is the reality of the Philippines…

Two days ago, Cherrylyn, a long time MyPAL’s son got diagnosed with TB after long period of respiratory problems.  Their roof blew off their house in the typhoon as they were in Lucena City.  We helped her husband, who was estranged, when she came to MyPAL, get work in Saudi, so most of her burden is off of us.  However, she didn’t have money after the typhoon.  We gave her a roof and I paid for checkup to her son, and gave her money to buy his meds to get his 6 month treatment started.  She could have never done any of that without the money we provided, about 200 USD.

The story is the same for all and we are the only thing that stands between them and lives going in a downward trajectory.  So this is very difficult.

I did give Josephine 15k to repair her house and rebuild her parents house about 375 USD; and the story goes on.  We don’t give them a fortune, just small help.  But when you multiply that by 30 regulars and up to 50 for sporadic support… you can see it adds up to 5k a month and more…

Mike
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When I think about how many people are going hungry, are in makeshift homes (cardboard boxes, galvanized tin and unfinished cinderblock — a MyPAL sent me a chat this morning – their poso negro (septic tank) is full and just won’t yield anymore, so Christmas in the house will have a different odor it seems.

Yesterday, a MyPAL said her son was diagnosed with TB and required the standard six months treatment, we already have three MyPALs and 2 kids in treatment… another MyPAL father with TB… even Nelson Mandela died as a result ultimately of TB he contracted in prison some 30 years ago, although most never live as long as he did for sure.

I actually told the people at our 2013 Retreat… I don’t know, and I don’t…

But as I go through EACH individual case we support… if we don’t help, the entire family system often dips into destitution, forcing the most vulnerable into intractable patterns of ill-health, and in many cases, ill psychological health as mothers have to do whatever it takes to feed, clothe, school, and treat children.

Rice currently is running about 30-50% premium, as a lot of government rice went into relief areas, pinching the already short supply. We lost a lot of rice due to the strange weather, and even though we had a great plan, if you thresh the rice and it’s not full of grain… the deal is off… as it was in our case, as I spent the last 6 months squirreling away money into our holiday rice program.

The cost of "plain" rice is still about $50 for us, because the dollar has appreciated against Philippine currency some this year, and we won’t give high quality rice this year.  We will stay above the rice that smells, which many are forced to eat, as it would not look good giving the cheaper, smelly rice (a whole other conversation btw)…

If you can help us, buy a sack or two, it will really be important this year, thanks!

Donate through PayPal to paypal@leadwise.com as it will get it there without costs, PayPal does NOT charge foreign transaction fees, and we don’t charge admin to get them this rice.

Mike
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One of our members donation was earmarked for Jackylou’s house [one of our very promising MyPALs].  I am working to get her something created as they are living in cardboard on a basketball court and it’s going to fall over soon.  She lost her father and brother in Samar.  I don’t know if they are dead but their house washed away, so they think so… Thousands of people like that, the government is not even reporting because they didn’t know they existed and there is no one alive to say they did.

Mike
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In the Philippines, the 1st birthday has a significance like no other…I’ve often wondered why and maybe I should just google it for some help, but I thought I would show you part of what they do to start the “big deal”… Often families mortgage everything for 1st birthday costs, and almost always its financed, we get requests obviously to help and this month is no different. Jackylou, one of our long-time mypals who has a dickens of a time, lost her father and brother in Tacloban, fortunately, she was with her mother, son, and husband in manila area during the storm, there house is gone and now they live in a small slapped together house on a basketball court. We are in the process (with Tim’s generous donation) of creating a permanent structure on 10 sq. meters, the government will give after the first of the year. In the meantime, her son is having his 1st birthday, and I’ve attached a picture and given them some funds to pull it off this year. Just thought you might want to see her invite,

Philippine birthday party invitation

 

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