Sometimes words fail.
If you weren’t in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan struck, it would be almost impossible to know the feeling of fear that it caused, to understand the sense of helplessness or to know the despair that followed. Looking at the aftermath, it is hard to believe that anyone could survive a storm of such force.
“The scene on the ground is grim and heartbreaking, especially in Tacloban. There is no place there that has a roof – schools, churches, malls, government buildings… the city has lost practically everything,” said Council Chairperson Em L. Ang of Lions Multiple District 301 in the Philippines, after a visit to the most devastated areas of the Philippines as part of the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Committee. “We have seen entire villages obliterated. I have no words to describe what is left.”
Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was estimated to have been the strongest storm ever to hit land. By looking at the resulting devastation throughout cities and villages in the Philippines, that estimation is easy to believe.
As early reports of the typhoon’s destruction filtered in from the Philippines, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) made $130,000 available to Philippine Lions to provide immediate relief. That amount quickly increased to $500,000 through donations from Lions club members in neighboring countries and around the world. Within a month, LCIF had surpassed $1 million in donations and commitments for disaster relief efforts, including the shipment of tents and water filtration units, or jerry cans.
“After visiting the most affected area, I can now understand and sympathize with the desperate needs of the victims. Short term, they need food, water and medical supplies. Then, they will need assistance in clean-up, reconstruction and rebuilding. And we, Lions will be there with them all the way,” continued Council Chairperson Em.
“The tents and jerry cans will greatly help the affected families as they slowly pick up the pieces of their lives shattered by Haiyan. Thanks to LCIF, the local Lions are better able to help the victims rise above the debris and destruction. I extend my sincere thanks for all the support that LCIF has brought our countrymen in these very difficult times.”
There are 12,600 Lions members in the Philippines in 380 Lions clubs throughout the country, including four in the capital city of Cebu of the hardest-hit province, and one in the hardest-hit town of Tacloban City. Immediately after the storm was over, the Lions went to work providing relief for their fellow community members.
“I was humbled by the immediate and generous support of our Lions worldwide,” said LCIF Chairperson Madden. “When I visited the Philippines, I saw the damage that the typhoon had done. Though buildings and communities are damaged in the Philippines, the Lions’ spirit is not. It is moments like these that demonstrate the large scale of Lions’ compassion and dedication to service and humanitarian needs.”
The impact of Typhoon Haiyan has been felt all over the Philippines, regardless of the amount of impact in each region of the country.
To learn more about ongoing relief efforts in the Philippines, please visit the LCIF website. Or, you can make a donation for disaster relief at www.lcif.org/donate. Thank you for your support and your service as Lions.
To see more photos and other Lions and LCIF relief efforts in the Philippines, just search for #LionsRelief on Facebook.
*Editor’s note: This story by Allie Stryker originally appeared in the February 2014 edition of LION Magazine.