By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley) – They danced and they sang and they danced some more, and when the evening was done, a group of students, faculty and staff raised almost $1,000 to donate to a small community in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, which led a path of death and destruction in the island nation last November.
About 100 people attended “A Fundraiser for the Philippine Typhoon Haiyan Victims” on March 7 at Cal State San Bernardino for an evening of Filipino folk dances and music – along with an update on the recovery effort in the central Philippines in the four months since the storm struck. The money raised will go toward the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters as they help the barangay of Guiuan, where the typhoon first made landfall on Nov. 8.
“We all thought it was a success,” said Kathy Nadeau, a professor of anthropology and co-adviser to Lubos PASO, the Filipino student association at Cal State San Bernardino, one of the groups that helped organize the fundraiser. “What people don’t realize is that the rebuilding process is a long-term endeavor.”
And one student planning to go to the Philippines to take part in the rebuilding took a step closer that night as well. Elisabeth Cook, a CSUSB graduate biology student, will travel to the Philippines in August to assist the Good Shepherd Sisters. Her trip will be funded separately.
Cook, a President’s Academic Excellence Scholar who earned her CSUSB undergraduate degrees in anthropology and biology in 2011, said that as she watched news coverage in the days after Typhoon Haiyan, she felt a pull to go to the Philippines and help. “I kept thinking about it for a while, and Bea, my sister who presented at the fundraiser, kept telling me to talk to Kathy because she did her research there.”
Specific plans on what Cook will do when she gets to Guiuan have yet to be drawn up. But it isn’t as if she doesn’t have experience going abroad and helping the less fortunate – she has been to the favelas (slums) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as well as poverty-stricken areas in Trinidad, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic on mission trips with her church.
“I feel like I’m mentally prepared to be in situations like that,” Cook said. “And I know I’m prepared to do whatever is needed.
“I grew up with my mother telling me about service, about serving people and helping people,” she said. “The Philippines, with all the stuff going on in the world right now (violence in Syria and Venezuela, the chaos in Ukraine among the current headlines), nobody is talking about how they still need to rebuild. So I want to be there for them.”
When Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippine region known as the Visayas, meteorologists classified it as a category 5 typhoon, which brought with it sustained winds of 145 mph, with gusts up to 195 mph (the strongest such storm on record), heavy rains and a storm surge of seawater almost 24 feet high. The storm’s damage to agriculture and infrastructure was estimated at more than $878 million, affecting more than 10 million people.
According to the United Nations, “Typhoon Haiyan destroyed or damaged an estimated 1 million homes across the Eastern and Western Visayas Regions of the central Philippines. Three months on from the devastating storm, the most pressing needs in the affected areas are for durable shelter and the restoration of livelihoods.”
Valerie Amos, the UN’s humanitarian chief, visited the region – including a trip to Guiuan – in late February, and while she saw signs that the storm-damaged areas were well on their way to recovery, much work still needed to be done, she said.
People still need a huge amount of support over the coming months to get back on their feet, she said. “The outstanding needs for temporary shelter and permanent homes are enormous,” Amos said in an article on the UN’s Typhoon Haiyan website. “Livelihood needs are also huge. A million farmers in the [Eastern Visayas] region were affected when more than 33 million coconut trees were damaged or destroyed. … We cannot afford to be complacent.”
Cook, whose career goal is to become a physician, said that just because Typhoon Haiyan’s victims no longer lead the top of the media’s headlines doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. “These are people who are in need,” she said. “Here in America, we are so blessed and we have so much ability to help people.”
And possessing the ability to help, she said, “I want to go do something. And if I’m feeling called to be in the Philippines, then I’m going to go and be there.”
Along with Lubos PASO, the groups at CSUSB that organized the fundraiser were the Global Citizens Project; Asian Faculty, Staff and Student Association; Phi Beta Delta; the department of anthropology; the department of theater arts; and the School of Computer Science and Engineering.
Donations are still being accepted, and may be sent to Lubos PASO, c/o Professor Kathleen Nadeau, Department of Anthropology, California State University, San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407. Checks should be made out to Lubos PASO.