CARE for PaBoR (Canossian Assistance and Restoration Effort for Palo and Borongan)

Considered the strongest tropical cyclone for the year with sustained winds of 315 kph and gustiness up to 250 kph, Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) made a total of six (6) landfalls on November 8 across four (4) regions of the Philippines, ploughing the coastal towns of southeastern Samar Island; Tacloban City; coastal areas of eastern Leyte; Bantayan Island and Daanbantayan in Cebu; Panay Island and Coron, Palawan. More than 10 million people have been affected by the typhoon across 44 provinces.

Hours after, albeit, communication lines were cut off and surmising that things really went very bad for the concerned areas, the Catholic Church’s social arm has tapped  its vast network of social action centers in various dioceses to help the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Hence, in solidarity with the whole nation and whole world in responding to the huge damage caused by Haiyan, our congregation – the Canossian Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor (a.k.a Canossian Sisters) – sent a group of Sisters last November 29 to December 7, exactly three weeks after that monstrous cyclone ravaged Central Philippines, to act as an “exploratory team” to the hardest hit areas of the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte and Diocese of Borongan in Samar. The “exploration” is intended to look for a more coordinated and organized relief and rebuilding efforts for the welfare of the severely affected poor families. They are Srs. Janet Norombaba, Ester Vasquez and Jovy Benavides together with a Postulant social worker, Aurea de Vera and another sister from another Congregation, Sr. Charito.

On Dec. 3, that was the fifth day of their  exploration, they had a brief conversation with the Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo. He, referred them to the newly formed Pastoral Disaster Response Committee for effective coordination of possible assistance to the Archdiocese. They were directed to the Archdiocese Chancery Office where the Pastoral Disaster Response Command Center (PDRCC) is based. They met Mr. Rey Barnido, the Disaster Management Consultant, who also acts as the temporary Operations Manager of the PDRCC. From him,  they learned about the “organized response” being implemented in the Archdiocese and some updates regarding its progress.

PDRCC has identified several “gaps” in the gargantuan  task of responding to the needs of the typhoon survivors:

· No Building Zones (50 meters from the shorelines) Policy of the government and  No Relocation Site yet identified for the coastal people vs Numerous Offers for Housing/Shelter Assistance

· There are still quite a number of “underserved” communities – not severely damaged but affected as well especially in terms of food security, temporary shelter and psycho-spiritual intervention. Weekly mapping out is a great need as of this time which they readily assisted through  need assessments of at least three areas in the hardest hit places.  They also involved themselves in doing some “psycho-spiritual intervention” or “post-trauma counseling” to the survivors  they encountered.

· Huge debris is still a site on the side and interior areas of the devastated places, fearing that there are still unrecovered cadavers underneath.


(see Gallery for other pictures)