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Philippines Still in Shambles from Typhoon Haiyan, Relief Continues

by Kyleigh Jones

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Imagine the luxury of cooking a meal in the comfort of your own kitchen and eating the meal you cooked, sitting at your dining room table. Now, imagine that the very next day, you’re forced to eat in the debris of what you once called home.

This is all too common of an occurrence for Filipinos affected by last week’s typhoon, also known as Typhoon Haiyan.

There have been many disputes over the actual number of deaths brought on by this natural disaster along with claims of President Benigno Aquino downplaying the death toll. Some of the latest figures present over 3,500 deaths, more than 12,000 injuries and nearly 600,000 people rendered homeless. These statistics have ardently gathered steam for international relief.

However, much like after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, donations of old clothes and shoes have been gathered in abundance in a relief effort. Although very well intentioned, Americans are making the same mistake of sending unnecessary items overseas. Most of these items will litter the streets along with the boxes they are shipped in.

What the affected people really need is a humanitarian effort geared toward providing things they actually require for survival. Money never hurts. Many countries have been able to send funds to the organizations that have worked in the affected areas before the storm hit. These organizations are much more likely to know the region and have a quicker response.

It is also important that funds are given to agencies that are able to tell exactly what is needed and how they are using what they are given. Such agencies will obtain the funds and use them directly to help rebuild the shattered economy. Most importantly, though, in donating funds, make sure your donations are going to an agency working directly with the government. This will maintain that the agency’s response is parallel with the nation.

It has been proven that Americans are extremely charitable in times of disaster and distress. So what has the United States done so far in terms of relief effort? The United States has pledged a fund of nearly $20 million, which places them at the top of relief funders covering about one-third of all funds. Along with sending a large sum of money relief, the U.S. has also sent hundreds of troops and aid workers overseas.

These are great statistics for the country, but people have been more absorbed in the lack of funds provided by China which started out at a mere $100k. However, after receiving much criticism China decided to up its donation to about $1.6 million.

Many other countries are sending funds and aid to the Philippines as well: Australia donated nearly $30 million, the United Kingdom sent $16 million, Japan and United Arab Emirates each promised $10 million, and Ikea pledged $2.7 million. Yes, Ikea, the Swedish furniture company sent more money to the aid of the Philippines than China has.

If you would like to help out with relief efforts, go to redcross.org for local chapter information or redcross.org.ph to donate directly to the Philippine Red Cross.

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