Generous North East families are helping to provide aid for victims of the Philippines typhoon disaster.
Typhoon Haiyan struck the country on November 8. More than 5,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes.
Those who survived need urgent help including emergency shelter, clean water and food, and people from the region are doing their bit to provide aid.
Ex-pats living in the Philippines have visited areas hit by the storm and are distributing vital supplies.
Among them is David Lynch, 66, of Chester-Le-Street, who has been helping survivors on the island of Cebu. He and his Filipino wife, Weng, moved to Cebu in 2005 where they live with their children.
Mr Lynch has delivered sacks of rice and cash to Cebu City Hall to be transferred to Bogo in the north, which has suffered major devastation, as well as taking food and clothing up to the area himself.
Harry Plant, of Durham City, who used to live in Cebu with his Filipino wife, Alecia, is helping to co-ordinate fundraising efforts in the North East.
He said: “I have kept in contact with my ex-pat friends and found that many of them are in the forefront of bringing aid to the survivors of the disaster.
“We are concerned that there are many forgotten corners of the Philippines where aid is passing them by.
“We used to live in Cebu and we are heartbroken to see the devastation caused to the once beautiful paradise island of Bantayan where we spent our honeymoon.
“Our friends are telling us that more contributions are needed to help deliver supplies.
“David reports that they found a village of around 44 families which was completely decimated. All the houses were flattened, crops destroyed and there is no power.
“One woman aged 86 thanked them with tears in her eyes.
“There has been no government aid and every day they see relief convoys heading for the cities but no vehicles stop to help them. Most of the smaller places tend to get overlooked and are given far less help than the major centres. Just £500 could feed these families for up to three weeks, but they need much more to rebuild their homes.
“That’s why we are fundraising. My wife works at Asda and collections have been organised there. In addition, we have collected clothing, tents and medical supplies from friends and family in the North East and arranged to have these shipped to the Philippines. We have also donated cash to our expat friends in Cebu.
“People from other parts of the country are helping out with our campaign.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation is asked to ring Jane Hodkinson on 07796 872944. Jane is working with charities and churches in Derby to raise funds for the expats in Cebu.
Recovery is the word being used
A North East man working in the Philippines has described the devastation caused by the typhoon.
David Errington, from Greenside, Ryton, has been working as a social auditor with Verite SEA in Manila for three months.
The 62-year-old visited Tacloban with a group of women who set up a grassroots relief movement called Kusog Tacloban. The group is providing volunteers to help survivors in remote parts of the country.
Mr Errington said: “Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, with a population of over 200,000, has been left stunned. Almost every house and building has been affected and many have simply disappeared.
“Huge swathes of the city within a kilometre of the coastline have been totally flattened in a scene eerily reminiscent of photos from Hiroshima. In other parts of the city houses are standing but with roofs ripped off. A huge tangle of cables, debris, wrecked vehicles and fallen trees surrounds them.
“Relief is now reaching most areas but there is much still to do.
“Recovery is the word now being used. Clearing, sorting, reconstructing, grieving, drawing breath, starting again.”
He met a woman named Lorna Canites, who lost her parents and her 11-year-old son Joel Joseph Aurelio in the disaster. Their home, near the sea, was swept away.
Her son lived in Tacloban with his grandparents while Lorna tried to make a living in Manila.
Mr Errington said: “Still in a state of shock, Lorna never moves far from her older sister Mayette, who is trying to hold things together for both of them. They have built a small shelter from debris covered with nylon sheets in which they have been sleeping since returning to Tacloban.
“It seems inconceivable that her only son and her parents could be alive and Lorna has not been able to find them.”
He visited Tacloban to deliver medical supplies in the area and saw various organisations trying to provide aid.
International groups had set up their headquarters in tents and military personnel were unloading provisions onto trucks.