A force for good in the aftermath of typhoon

The Oxford Times: Oxfam worker Ian Bray in Tacloban Oxfam worker Ian Bray in Tacloban

OXFORD-BASED international aid charity Oxfam has led the campaign which has seen £5m donated for survivors of the devastating tropical storm.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the islands of the Philippines on Friday, November 8, and more than 5,000 people have since been confirmed dead. In all, nearly 15 million people have been affected by the disaster.

Oxfam worker Ian Bray, from Arnolds Way, Cumnor Hill, told the Oxford Mail about what he has seen in the country since he flew out.

Speaking about the village of Magay on the coast of the island of Leyte, the 60-year-old said: “It was the type of village featured in exotic tourist brochures – azure seas lapping white beaches festooned with palm trees. Not anymore. Magay is a wreck.

“A month ago it felt the full force of a super-typhoon. The winds were bad but then came the worse. A huge sea, the height of a double decker bus, picked up most of the village and dumped it further in land.”

He said the head of the village – Diego Morinso – had showed him around the village and pointed out where people had died and where families used to live.

But he said: “Thanks to the generosity of the British public, Oxfam has been able to help the villagers of Magay with vital supplies that prevent the spread of disease, such as a simple bar of soap, mosquito nets to prevent malaria and other basics.

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“Magay is one village among thousands that have been heavily hit. The statistics of ruin are shocking.

“Nearly 15 million people affected, more than million workers out of a job, four million left homeless, more than a million homes damaged, millions of coconut trees destroyed.”

He said in the first month since the storm the Cowley-based charity had helped 250,000 get clean water, emergency toilets, and plastic sheeting for shelter.

Oxfam will soon be giving Filipino farmers 400 tonnes of rice seeds so they can start to plant and then, before not too long, harvest.

Mr Bray added: “The relief effort is now in full swing but there is much more to do and it will be years before the survivors of the typhoon are back to where they were before the disaster struck.

“In their favour is their conviction that they will rise again, that through hard work and determination they will prevail.”

Kindness funds aid efforts

THE Filipino Community of Oxfordshire has been collecting money and donations to be sent out to victims.

The group has raised thousands of pounds and 25 boxes full of donations were flown out to the islands last week.

The Oxford Times:

  • Chipping Norton taxi driver Tahirul Hasan

Rotary Clubs around the county have also been holding street collections and have sent thousands to the islands.

Oxfam Bookshop in Thame collected more than £2,500 for the appeal and Chipping Norton taxi driver Tahirul Hasan, has pledged to give 10 per cent of his earnings this month to the cause.

Those helped by Oxfam

Dolor Moralde, 36, was one of hundreds in the coastal region of Daanbantayan to receive a hygiene kit from Oxfam.

The kits contained essentials such as toothbrushes and paste, blankets, sleeping mats and mosquito nets.

The mum-of-five, said: “Even the roof of the evacuation centre that we went to flew off and the windows shattered. There were 11 families in there. My house was completely destroyed. We really need the mosquito net and sleeping mat, they will be really useful. We are very grateful.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Dolor Moralde pictured with one of her children

Romeo Rosello, 61, from Bantayan Island, also received one of the kits.

He said: “We’ve seen typhoons before but nothing as strong as this. We all thought we were going to die.

“The hygiene and water kits are a big help to us.

“We lost most of our things and don’t have money to go to the market to buy anything so everything is useful.

“There’s nothing that’s not useful. We need it all.”

Dinner raised cash for victims

MORE than £6,500 has been raised for victims of the typhoon by Oxford student fundraisers.

The Oxford Philippines Society organised and hosted a charity dinner last month at Oriel College which was attended by 138 people.

The money raised will now the money will be handed over to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

OPS president Oleri Galope said the charity fundraiser had been a success. It started with a champagne reception at the historic college’s Champneys's Room, accompanied by a performance by a cellist from the Oxford University Philharmonia.

The Oxford Times:

  • A survivor walks past debris left by Typhoon Haiyan

That was then followed by a three-course dinner at the Oriel College Dining Hall, where Oxford vocal group The Beatroots performed over dessert.

Third year University of Oxford law student Mr Galope said: “The event has been a great success, with great help from Oriel College, University of Oxford, and our different sponsors.

“The Oxford Philippines Society spent nothing and all the money raised will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee.”

The 21-year-old added: “We had 10 days to prepare and it has been hard work, but we couldn’t stay at Oxford and do nothing.

The Oxford Times:

  • RAF ground crew unload emergency supplies

“Although we are students, and we are away from our home country, we felt the need to contribute in any way we can no matter how small the contribution is.

“This dinner shows the contributions that Filipinos and non-Filipino students alike are doing in Oxford to help our countrymen.

“I also hope that it can serve as an inspiration to other students, that even with little time, they can make a contribution to our country.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Oxford Philippines Society president Oleri Galope

The charity dinner was attended by students from different University of Oxford colleges and also representatives of the Philippine Embassy, including the Philippine Consul General Senen Mangalile and the Acting Ambassador of the Philippines to the UK, Maria Fe Pangilinan.

RAF returns

ROYAL Air Force crews will be returning to Oxfordshire this week  after helping to distribute aid around the disaster-struck islands.

One crew from RAF Brize Norton last month appeared in the Oxford Mail after helping to save the lives of two helicopter pilots who had crashed into the sea in the Philippines while delivering aid.

The RAF Hercules received a distress call from pilots who had crashed into harbour waters and organised rescue efforts.

The RAF has been taking supplies – including shelters and water purification equipment – to islands worst-hit.

The Oxford Times:

  • Aid arriving on a RAF transporter

Last month the Oxford Mail reported how Oxfordshire crews were working around the clock to deliver supplies to areas worst hit by the severe tropical storm.

The base also sent RAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft to transport heavy goods to the islands.


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