Canadian aid flows to Pacific nations

  • October 8, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been a harrowing week for Faye Arellano as she worried about relatives in the Philippines hit by Typhoon Ketsana, the “Katrina of the Philippines.”

Close to 300 people died in and around Manila from the typhoon which struck on Sept. 26.

It dumped an average month’s worth of rain in one day in Greater Manila and displaced about half a million people. A week later, at least 22 people were killed by tropical storm Parma.

Arellano, a parishioner at Toronto’s Our Lady of the Assumption Church, says her four sisters survived the torrential rains and flooding in and around the capital. One sister was trapped in her house for a week with her four children, surviving on whatever food was left in the house, Arellano said, because the gates leading into their subdivision were inundated with water.

Our Lady of the Assumption Church is the archdiocese of Toronto’s Filipino mission parish. It is one of several Canadian churches collecting goods and monetary donations.

Fr. Joe Pena, who is co-ordinating the parish’s donation drive, says the parish has collected about $11,000 so far for disaster relief. It will go to ShareLife, the charitable fundraising arm of the archdiocese, which will forward the money to the stricken area. ShareLife has also launched an online donation site since the typhoon struck the Philippines, with $7,000 collected to date.

At Assumption parish, Pena said around 250 boxes filled with canned goods, shoes, toiletries and utensils were collected on Oct. 4 and will be sent to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines by Oct. 15.

In Quebec, the Federation of Filipino Canadian Associations of Quebec is collecting donations for the Philippines’ flooding victims for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Development and Peace is working with Caritas, the Catholic Church’s network of charitable aid agencies, and has donated $50,000 to Caritas Philippines for emergency relief. By Oct. 6, it received $18,000, with more than half from the United Steelworkers’ Humanity Fund.

Development and Peace has also sent $50,000 for relief to Indonesian earthquake victims. Two earthquakes struck Indonesia’s West Sumatra province Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The official death toll as of The Register’s press time was 704, with 295 people listed as missing.

An earthquake also struck near Samoa and American Samoa Sept. 29, followed by a second quake Oct. 2 between Samoa and Tonga. A tsunami caused by the first quake hit Samoa, killing at least 135 people and destroying 20 villages.

The U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, which is part of the Caritas network, is providing emergency shelter for 5,500 families in 23 villages in West Sumatra.

In Samoa, the local branch of Caritas collaborated with the National Disaster Team and the Red Cross to co-ordinate the tsunami response.

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(With files from Catholic News Service.)

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