Norwich Filipinos rally to rescue flood victims
2009: Filipinos in Norwich are uniting to help family and friends caught in the devastating floods in Manila.
On 26 September Typhoon Katsana slammed into the Philippines' capital, leaving hundreds dead and half a million homeless. Eighty per cent of the huge city was under water as a month's rain fell in one day. On 3 October Hurricane Parma brought a second battering to those who had already lost everything.
Monette Hastings, a Filipina who attends Norwich Family Life Church, heard that her pastors back home in Bulacan, just north of Manila, were flooded out, and that her home church was waist deep in water.
She began to rally local Filipino friends to support people back in Bulacan. Her home pastor, Eva Fajardo, has already risen above personal suffering to organise a feeding programme for 370 evacuees who have taken shelter in a nearby school (see picture).
A second Norwich Filipino, Gani Gazmin, is organising a collection among nurses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. He will be sending out clothes via the Philippines embassy, and financial help through the Channel 2 television appeal in Manila.
Christian Aid has already sent £50,000 to its partners in Manila, to provide clean water, food and medicine to those who have been left homeless.
Christian Aid's country officer, Daphne Villanueva, herself barely escaped with her life as her bungalow in the outskirts of Manila disappeared under the rising water. "It was terrifying," she said. "The roads became rivers and soon it was up to our necks. The junctions were particulary dangerous because the currents were strong there. My daugher is 13; we had to hold on to her so tightly to stop her being swept away."
Christian Aid's local co-ordinator, Eldred Willey, is particulary concerned to bring help to Navotas, a low-lying slum area of Manila which he visited with a local partner organisation called Cope.
"We saw seven people living a a fragile wooden structure, just 3m by 2m, hardly above the level of the river," he said. "I doubt if their home exists any more."
If you would like to join local Filipinos in their emergency collection, you can contact Monette Hastings on email@example.com, 01603 261571 or Gani Gazmin on 01603 734713.
Christian Aid has joined in the DEC appeal for the Philippines, and you can send donations via Eldred Willey at Christian Aid, the Kings Centre, King Street, Norwich NR1 1PH, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01603 620051