Catholic aid making its way to Philippines' flood victims

By 
  • October 2, 2009

{mosimage}TORONTO - Canadian Catholics are funnelling money as fast as they can to bishops in the Philippines as the dioceses in and around Manila struggle to deal with massive destruction and loss of life left by Typhoon Ketsana.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace immediately sent $50,000 and set up toll-free phone lines and a web site to accept donations. In Toronto, where a majority of the city’s 172,000 Filipinos are Catholic
parishioners, ShareLife is also accepting donations.

In the first couple of days of online donations, Development and Peace had collected $1,025. At ShareLife it was “just a trickling” of online giving over the first 24 hours. Both organizations expect donations to dramatically increase next week after groups had met and received information on Sunday.

Both ShareLife and Development and Peace are sending emergency relief funds to NASSA, the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace, an arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

With 240 dead, and 1.9 million affected by the storm, NASSA is mounting a massive relief effort. Many of the 607 official evacuation centres hosting 375,000 refugees are in Catholic churches and schools. A further 235,000 people forced from their homes are staying with relatives.

The month’s worth of rain that fell on Manila and areas north of the city caused $53.5 million worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture, according to NASSA’s Sept. 30 status report.

At press time Ketsana had just hit central Vietnam with the potential to devastate the home communities of another heavily Catholic immigrant population in Canada. As of Sept. 30 41 people had already been killed.
In the Philippines, NASSA initially purchased 650 bags of rice to distribute to the hardest hit areas — Antipolo, Rizal, Bulcan, Pampanga, Cavite and San Pablo, Laguna. The rice is going out with emergency cooking utensils, shelter material and hygiene supplies.

Members of Toronto’s Filipino community have organized five drop-off centres in the city for non-perishable food, clothing and other donations. ShareLife, Development and Peace and most relief agencies favour cash, which NASSA can use to buy whatever is most needed then deliver it quickly to where it is most needed.

“The situation is very challenging,” NASSA executive director Sr. Rosanne B. Mallillin told Catholic News Service. “Many of our local social action centres are still unable to reach the worst-hit areas because of the debris and the flooding. People are in need of food and clean water, as many of the water sources have been contaminated. We’re also sending cooking utensils, sleeping mats and bed sheets.”

The Carmelites have launched an international appeal in support of their two parishes in Quezon City. In the parish of San Isidro Labrador more than 50 were killed and 100 are missing, while in Sagrada Familia parish some 500 families have been affected by flash flooding.

To send help to the Philippines log onto www.sharelife.org and use the secure donation page on the web site. Donations by phone can be made by calling 1-800-263-2595 or (416) 934-3411. At your parish you can make cheques payable to “ShareLife — Parish Name — Tropical Storm Ketsana Relief — Philippines.” Development and Peace accepts online donations at www.devp.org.

Donations can be phoned in toll free at 1-888-664-3387. Cheques marked “Philippines: Floods” may be mailed to Development and Peace, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. W., 3rd Floor, Montreal, Que., H3G 1T7.

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