Dubai residents want to ensure aid reaches Yolanda victims

By Angel Tesorero

Posted at Nov 17 2013 12:01 PM | Updated as of Nov 17 2013 08:01 PM

DUBAI -- Five Dubai residents are going to one of the provinces in the Philippines hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan to oversee distribution of relief goods and drum up support for victims.

“We are taking a more active stance in doing charity,” British expat Lisa Kingsley told 7DAYS. “It’s good to send money but we can generate more interest and drum up more support if we show donors that the money or donations they give will go directly to people who need them.”

Kingsley, who has run a charitable group called Basics UAE for more than four years, will be joined by Lebanese expat Toufic Abou Nader, South African Sharné Petzer, Palestinian Alaa Khorshid and Lebanese Imad Atwi.

The team leave Dubai on Monday and head to Kalibo, Aklan, 293 km west of Tacloban, Leyte, the worst affected area in the Philippines. They will work with the Citizens’ Disaster Response Centre (CDRC), a non-government organization that promotes community-based disaster management in the Philippines.

“CDRC advised us it’s far too dangerous to go to Tacloban at the moment and we could make more of a difference if we go instead to Kalibo, where almost 20,000 homes have been destroyed and people are camped in 10 evacuation centers run by CDRC,” said Kingsley.

“We’ve sent in advance a good amount of money to CDRC and we will buy whatever the people need. But more than that, I think it’s good for those affected to see people coming from outside ready to give them help,” she added.

While in Kalibo, Kingsley and her team will post photos of their relief operation on the Basics UAE Facebook page and CDRC web page to show the situation on the ground.

Nader said: “We want to be in the middle of the situation because of our passion to help.” Petzer added: “We should stand together to carry the burdens of each other. I have so much respect and love for the people of Philippines who have stood together and supported each other. What we are doing is something small but it is going to make a big difference.”

The team will spend from their own pockets for the airfare but they have already received enormous support from various expat groups and residents in the UAE.

Readers rally to help appeal for aid

Three vans laden with parcels of support from
7DAYS readers and staff were unloaded at the Philippines Consulate in Dubai on Friday morning.

The 7DAYS distribution team used their day off to send the generous donations -- including medicine, baby clothes, toys, blankets, slippers, diapers, cans of food and even a wheelchair -- to aid the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

Meanwhile, truckloads of boxes poured in throughout the day, while others contributed to the consulate’s Brunch for a Cause fundraiser. Matilyn Bagunu, president of the Dubai and Northern Emirates wing of NGO FilCom, said the event had collected Dhs112,412.50 and filled two 6-meter containers and one 12-meter container of assorted relief goods.

“We will be able to ship within the week,” she said.
“This is just the beginning of our journey for a better Philippines.”

Volunteers have worked non-stop over the past 24 hours, sorting the donated items and packing them for shipment. Hand-written messages on some of the boxes read: “You are not alone,” “Stay strong Kabayans,” “Don’t give up”.

Those who still wish donate can do so at Dubai Outlet Mall until November 30, anytime between 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. on weekends.

Originally published in Tesorero allowed to re-publish it.