Feb 22, 2012
Red Cross Relief Efforts for the Guihulngan Earthquake Victims
When the earthquake hit the northeast section of Negros in Feb 6, the municipality of Guihulngan suffered the most - lives were lost, landslides buried some sitios, roads cracked and opened up, houses were leveled and even a mild tsunami devastated a small coastal infrastructure. The media gave it due coverage in the following days, but waned after a while. Without the continued media exposure, people thought things were back to normal. That was not the case. When buddy Menka Ponce de Leon relayed her ordeal in distributing relief goods in Feb 20, 2 weeks after the quake, the victims were still in dire need of basic necessities - food, water, clothing and shelter.
Cuernos de Negros and Red Cross
Ever involved when disaster strikes in Dumaguete and surrounding areas, Cuernos de Negros was on hand to help out. When Toto Matula and their volunteer crew invited me to join them in helping out the Red Cross in their relief efforts, I packed-in for a day's distribution of water and relief goods. Somehow, I wanted the news to be real - not just videos on TV, but in the flesh, as in seeing for myself what the situation was all about by being there.
The 2-hour ride already gave me glimpses of the damage. Along the road, I saw tent cities scattered along the highway with signs for help and donations. Guihulngan itself was pretty patched up when I arrived, The gaping cracks on the highway were filled-in and some clean up have already been done. But the devastation was very much evident - collapsed houses, fallen fences, and yes, tent cities.
Red Cross has been at the scene since day one, and it appeared that they'll be staying there longer. The Cuernos crew has likewise been making a few stay-in visits. The immediate needs were clean drinking water and some household items (rice, plastic basin, soap, etc.) to help them adjust to their situation. However, the problem is complicated by unstable land forcing the victims to relocate, even if there is no damage to their property. I noticed a few civilian organizations being there as well, to help out. Red Cross was the hub that kept things organized and mobilized.
Water and Household Items
While waiting for the household goods, we took 2 trips to nearby tent cities giving away drinking water in 1-gallon containers. After that, we went further inside the mountain to reach a barangay where arrangements were made through the local barangay for an orderly distribution of relief goods. That was important since a mob rule can easily ensue when a truck comes in full of goodies to people who may not have had something to eat for a good while.
The Ride Back
I had to leave that same night, and fortunately, I got a ride from the tireless Red Cross CSR in Blood Services, Ms. Maquiling, who filled me in about the many challenges plaguing Red Cross' relief efforts, and on a bigger scale, its national involvement when catastrophe hits the country.
It was just a day's volunteer work for me but that really put me on a ringside seat as far as seeing first hand what was happening - what issues they faced, hearing side stories about the local politics that stammer the equitable distribution of relief goods, the bigger problem that lay ahead, and importantly, meeting these unsung heroes who devote time, effort and themselves in making a difference to people who need it the most.
Pictures courtesy of Rufrucinni Nellas
(Apr 22, 2012) thanks for sharin
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