How 'liking' this FB page can raise funds for 'Yolanda' aid

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori,

Posted at Jan 04 2014 12:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 06 2014 06:57 PM

MANILA – The task of rebuilding lives and communities forever changed by the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda is not an overnight task.

While work is now being done to rebuild what's left of areas severely damaged by Yolanda, the challenge of not forgetting those whose lives were lost and shattered lies on everybody's shoulders.

This is what a group of volunteers from Australia is hoping to achieve through a campaign called "Help After Haiyan".

"Yung thought behind that is on average, people think about a disaster for two to four weeks tapos makakalimutan na. So we want people to keep thinking of the Haiyan survivors for three months at least," said Filipino Australian Michelle Baltazar.

Baltazar said the project's concept was born when she and her friends expressed their intention to help those affected by Yolanda.

"Kaming lahat, we wanted to help. Pero as individuals, we felt helpless and powerless na hindi gaanong kalaki ang magagawa namin," she said.

The group, she said, had earlier extended immediate help to typhoon victims through their 48-Hour Rapid Response Project where they raised $10,000 in cash and shipped a thousand boxes of relief and medical supplies worth AU$100,000 to the Philippines.

"The 48-hour appeal was an emergency relief. Itong 'Help After Haiyan' is for the recovery stage," she said.

Baltazar said the Facebook campaign will run for 100-days and targets to get 100,000 'Likes' to raise AU$1,000,000 for typhoon survivors. The campaign began in November 8, the day the typhoon struck central Philippines, and will end on the second week of February.

"It increases awareness. The more people "Like" our page, the Facebook community page, we can keep updating people about what's happening in that typhoon affected areas and encourages them to either donate through that page or they can do their own fundraising and give the money to us to our World Vision Australia partner," she said.

Baltazar said they partnered with World Vision Australia as they feel that it was a big fit with what they are trying to do.

"The only difference is that sa ibang charity agencies when you give the money you don't have control over how that money is spent. But because were trying to raise one million, its big enough for us to have a partner within World Vision Australia where we have an agreement that our work in the Help After Haiyan project has a bit of a say on how that money is going to be disbursed in the typhoon affected region," she said.

As of Saturday morning, the Help After Haiyan Facebook community page has already 4,910 Likes.

"Talaga namang imposible ang ginagawa namin na 100,000 "Like" in 100 Days. Pero talaga naman din imposible ang nangyari sa Tacloban and Capiz. We could actually say apocalyptic. Ang slogan namin 'Trying the impossible for the unimaginable'," she said.

She is hopeful that will raise the money which will go towards child safety, shelter and community rebuilding.

Baltazar is still in the Philippines visiting typhoon-ravaged areas in Leyte and Cebu. She will fly back to Australia on January 9 where she hopes to influence as many people to like their page as possible.

"Ang target namin once I'm back in Australia we've identified 300 individuals na malaki and influence sa social media, sa Facebook, and the target of the volunteer committee, including myself, is to ask each of those 300 individuals to each get 250 Like if they believe in what we're trying to do," Baltazar.

Aside from that, the Tacloban native also hopes to use her background as a financial newspaper publisher in Australia to encourage friends in the banking and financial community to join their campaign.

"Please, please, please tulungan natin ang mga kababayan nating naghihirap ngayon. All you have to do is 'Like' our page. 100,000 'Like' is not impossible with the help of the community and it won't cost you anything. It will translate to real dollars if the campaign is successful," she said.