Dos and Don'ts to Help with Tacloban

Tacloban
photo: Noel Celis/AFP
 
Typhoon Haiyan has really done a number on the Philippines. Tacloban is starting to look like a massive humanitarian disaster on the same scale as Haiti, which has yet to recover from it's devastating earthquake. It's bewildering to wonder how could things in Tacloban could turn out this way, because the post typhoon disaster should never have happened. 
 
Here's a list of dos and don'ts if you've been reading the news and feel the urge to help our neighbors in need.
 
Don'ts
 
1. Don't start getting ready to head to Tacloban to lend a hand if you do not have any training or experience in disaster relief, first aid or civil engineering. 
 
Things are already chaotic enough on in Tacloban, going there in a half cocked effort to appear helpful could end up backfiring and making things worse. 
 
There's been reports by NGOs on the ground of stabbings and gunpoint robberies as people steal food and supplies from one another in an effort to survive. 
 
Power hasn't been fully restored in the city and blackouts are still prevalent. The locals themselves have no where to sleep and are more often then not sleeping streets side by side with the dead in the open. 
 
Tacloban also happens to be an isolated island within the Philippines with ferries in and out overstretched with evacuations so it will be difficult for anyone to leave the disaster zone. Please stop and really take stock of what you can do before you decide you to head to Tacloban. Otherwise you could end up putting yourself in danger during your stint there.
 
2. Don't donate expired canned food or clothing. Most times disaster relief agencies do not have the means or manpower to sort these items. These items often end up either being stuck at customs or trashed. Donate cash or medicine or fuel instead if you want to make donations to help. Fuel donations go towards powering vehicles or generators on the ground in case you were wondering.
 
Dos
 
1. Do your research on the organizations you're thinking of making donations to. The supplies and money you donate are more likely to reach the people who need them if you donate to organizations that are already on the ground in Tacloban. 
 
The politicians in Manila are too busy trying to score political points by putting their stamps on items that arrive in Manila to make it look like they were the ones who brought the aid into the country. The politicians are also the reason why the country was caught flatfooted without a proper disaster relief fund to respond to scenarios such as Haiyan. The country's disaster relief fund was empty thanks to corrupt politicians siphoning the funds for their own pockets. 
 
2. Do volunteer with organizations in Singapore that have sent personnel to the ground in Tacloban. Organizations such as Mercy Relief or Relief 2.0 have need of support personnel in Singapore to help organize fundraising drives or sorting supplies and donations. This is where the lay man can have the most impact if they wish to volunteer their time to make a difference. It may not be glamorous work but it's work that needs to be done and you will be helping typhoon survivors.
 
3. Do frequently check the Facebook pages of relief organizations for updates on what kind of donations they need, when they need them by and where to drop off donations so you can quickly mobilize your own resources and contacts to readily help.
 
Remember, even if you haven't been trained in humanitarian aid or disaster relief, there are still things you can do to make a difference in the lives of our afflicted neighbours. 
 
Check out the video below of the devastation in Tacloban.
 
 

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