It is commendable to see massage therapists giving their services for free during the relief operations for evacuees of Typhoon Yolanda. It does not take just money or goods but the intangibles like a good massage, touch therapy and a good back rub to know that people care about their affected neighbors.
I was also touched that some friends joined Oplan: Hatid that brought evacuees by car to their relatives or friends in Metro Manila as soon as they landed in VIllamore Air Base. Some evacuees , I heard, even asked for a ride to Baguio! And some, sadly, were refused by relatives upon arrival due to lack of space.
It is also very commendable to see all the netizens at work, not at bashing others but just communicating information such as the groups of Ros Juan and Tonyo Cruz of #tweetupmanila #rescuePH #reliefPH and many other new ones like #SURGE headed by Lyca Benitez Brown’s daughter-in-law and son.
Coordination and collection of goods were done via Facebook, Twitter, and email. It was also effective to use Viber, We Chat and Whats App. Reena Francisco collected monies for specially-priced biodegradable bath soaps from Daila herbal Soaps.
Marissa Concepcion texted friends and right away sent thousands of blankets to Leyte.
Everyone was just trying to help. One Christmas party after another had been cancelled and budgets reallocated to relief. I was touched to find out our ECHOstore office and store staff decided to buy soaps, too, to send over to relief instead of having our usual Christmas breakfast party.
After all, we are in the business of sharing through social enterprise and through the use of biodegradable products. How apt and how touching to know they decided on their own without us egging them to do so.
After the relief comes the more difficult part of rebuilding lives, rebuilding homes, and rebuilding communities. And the work has just begun. We can start by giving the victims some dignity through work. They can build their own boats, their own homes one panel at a time.
Our friends who are victims themselves are our key people in Leyte and Samar. Julie Anover-Heinrichsdorff, a Tacloban native, has rounded up our UP community to help out. We are starting by deploying generators to more than 30 barangays within their reach.
Next will be livelihood. We plan to coordinate with Negrenses Volunteers for Change to get involved with the Peter Project to build boats for the fishermen who lost everything. Just as easily, a boat can be the key to solve hunger and provide livelihood almost immediately.
We need more connections. Already Cathy Anover has given away seeds to plant food. Lyca Benitez Brown has been in touch with Habitat for Humanity for houses.
Annie Dee has deployed a huge water purifier that can be used by a whole village.
We must continue to help and keep the fire burning. Any amount of money, goods and tireless sending of intangibles. What we cannot touch but are so useful are referrals, connecting friends and suppliers, and sometimes just information on the best deal or the best value can come in handy.
“What does not break you [or kill you]only makes you stronger,” as the saying goes.
Hang on and hold on, help is on its way. And what will make them stronger is the sense of pride and dignity that we will help them rise up and not just have another meal. That dole outs will soon be replaced by empowerment. And livelihood projects that will ensure not only their survival, but their sustainability.
Let’s keep the fire burning. No amount of relief will be too much. Let’s keep connecting people and bringing hope to all those who were affected. Someday we may also need help and what goes around, comes around. Good karma will only result in the same.
Give some, give plenty. But give of yourself. And as the saying goes, “give ‘til it hurts.”
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra, Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee.
You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org