As Typhoon Vamco batters their home country, the Filipino community in Doha gathers donations to aid those affected.
Dead, displaced, or in danger: people in the Philippines have been fighting to survive yet another deadly storm that battered the country in recent days, cutting power to millions and leaving at least 67 dead and thousands displaced.
Fortunately, the Filipino community in Qatar, which is known for its compassion and unity, has been working tirelessly, gathering donations over the past week to aid those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.
Clothes, relief kits, food, and sanitary products are all being donated to several non-profit organisations in Qatar in an effort to help relieve the suffering of the Filipinos back home. The recent storm, which was the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, struck the northern island of Luzon, leaving thousands displaced and many others in danger.
Among those leading aid efforts is Joseph Rivera, who’s been collecting donations from those who want to help and gives them to non-profit organisations across Qatar to send to the Philippines. Rivera works as the chairman of AFREEQ, an association of Filipino realtors and entrepreneur executives in Qatar.
He told Doha News that the moment the Typhoon hit the country, several people from the community rushed to donate clothes, money, and anything they can to support those in need, highlighting the community’s efforts in providing relief aid.
“It’s already the nature of us Filipinos out of our own free will to start collecting whatever things we can spare whenever there’s a huge calamity back home in the Philippines,” Rivera said.
“AFREEQ hands over relief goods in kind to both AKO – OFW Qatar Chapter and the Ilonggo Beez Qatar who have representatives in the Philippines who distribute the goods to the victims directly.”
Until now, the deadliest cyclone to hit the Philippines has taken the lives of at least 67 people, while at least 12 people remain missing.
But that’s not the worst of it.
In less than three weeks, three typhoons and five tropical cyclones have affected the country, pushing the community in Qatar to support their families and friends back home who have been suffering greatly in recent months.
“The Philippines is now under a state of devastation,” said Rivera.
“This is why we’re doing our best to work with local organisations in the Philippines. For us fortunate Filipinos who are working in Qatar, we are doing our best to share what we can in our own personal capacities,” he added.
Rivera added that though they cannot publicly solicit donations due to Qatar’s laws, people have been generously donating all they can voluntarily during the past weeks.
One of the non-profit organisations accepting donations here in Qatar is Corner Snack Foundation, which is a community organisation which aims to help those in need in the Philippines.
Hazel Gueverra, who heads Corner Snack foundation, told Doha News that they are collecting donations, including food, clothes, money and diapers, and shipping them to churches and community centres in the Philippines to distribute to people in need.
“Once our boxes are filled with donations, we will send it immediately to churches in the Philippines. The churches then distribute the goods to those affected by the typhoon,” said Gueverra.
“In terms of the cash donations, we already coordinated with the churches so we can easily send directly to their account so they can buy relief goods in the country.”
The foundation has a team of five people who collect donations and sort them out into boxes. To show support to those who showed kindness towards people in need, the foundation takes donors’ names and thanks them on their website.
“By posting their nicknames, we want to give thanks to them so they can feel that we appreciate what they did to the people,” Guevara added.
Those who want to donate, can visit Corner Snack’s office at shop no.13 in Mansoura, Doha.
Besides non-profit organisations, some people from the community are also collecting donations from within their community and sending them to teams back in their home country to distribute. Romeo Villegas, document controller at Qatar Zones Authority and founder of Pinoy Heart Radio, and his friends have been sending donations to those in need in the Philippines since 2013.
“We have sent more than two thousand riyals to our team in the Philippines already to start planning distribution of the goods to the needy. In case we get more donations, we will be able to help more people affected by the calamities,” said Villegas.
In the past year alone, 21 cyclones have hit the Philippines, causing roughly $9.7 million (469.7 million Philippine peso) worth of infrastructure damage across the country, Mark Timbal, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman, said.
Typhoon Vamco alone has caused $24.7 million worth of agriculture damage due to the heavy rainfall and strong winds.
Thousands of people have been affected by the heavy flooding caused by the accumulated effects of previous weather disturbances, forcing them to seek shelter on rooftops to escape the high floods.
The International Federation of the Red Cross said 47,000 people have been rescued so far, but that it “fears for the safety and wellbeing of thousands who remain trapped.”
Despite all obstacles, the Fillipino community is optimistic that the country will recover and the “resilient people will once again fight to regain shelter.”