Last November 23, 2013, the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society, Inc. (PATAS, Inc.) visited the evacuees arriving at the Villamor Airbase. Â The place is where the planes from Tacloban, Leyte bring the evacuees. Â Upon arrival, the evacuees are given food and drinks and if needed urgent medical attention, they are brought to the doctors and nurses who have set up tents on one part of the airbase. Â This operation is called “Oplan Salubong“, led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Â If the typhoon survivors have relatives in Metro Manila or in the nearby provinces, they are brought to them, through the help of volunteer drivers with their own private vehicles.
PATAS decided to spend the third Saturday of November to help with Oplan Salubong and to bring relief goods (composed of food, water, hygiene kits, medications, baby diapers, milk packs and sanitary napkins), instead of having the regular monthly meetup.
Scroll down for more photos during the relief operations (Thanks to Marie Lorenzo, Mark Dennis Flores, and Thomas Fleckner for some of the photos).
Sorted out Hygiene Kits (containing toothpaste, toothbrush, alcohol, soap and sanitary napkins), baby diapers, and milk packs
Putting the food packs in boxes. Â Thanks to Pam’s Kitchen for helping out! Â It’s truly a labor of love!
We arrived at Villamor Airbase late in the afternoon and just have enough time to unload all the goods and prepare to serve dinner for the 500+ people that are already at Villamor Airbase.
The distribution of relief goods have to be coordinated with the different marshals (all volunteers) that are assigned in each department, as the relief goods are also separated by department. Â Food and drinks were received initially at a central food station, so that DSWD volunteers know how much are coming in and how much are needed to be delivered to the grandstand at any one time. Â They also check which food needed to be served soon and which are not already fit for consumption. People arriving by planes are first received in the grandstand, where they can rest while having food and drinks.
PATAS members and officers getting instructions from the marshals regarding Â food distribution and cleanup
Pardon the blurry photo. Â Picture taking inside the grandstand is not allowed, actually. Â Most probably, this is to protect also the identity and privacy of the typhoon survivors. Â Each plane have 250 passengers in it. Â There were already people in the grandstand when we arrived and more came when a C130 landed at around 8:30 p.m. Â PATAS worked with the other volunteers, private individuals and from different organizations, to distribute the food and drinks and do cleanup afterwards. Â It was an intense experience seeing how these people who underwent that much suffering, finally being able to get some comfort, even if far away from home. Â Volunteers even offered food and drinks to other volunteers who seem to be in need of it already.
This is the medical area where people needing medical attention are brought in immediately or after their meals. Â It just lies outside the grandstand, near the area where the planes land. Â We were able to bring in some medicines like antibiotics, painkillers, and multivitamins given by physician friends. Â According to the nurses and doctors on duty at Villamor, the influx of oral medications have started to increase, but there is also a great need for arm slings, wound care kits, and anti-tetanus vaccines. Â Hopefully, during the second visit, PATAS will be able to bring these. Â And the need for more volunteers is still there.
Thoughtfully, Villamor Airbase has also setup a big tent for breastfeeding mothers called “Nanay Bayanihan” and a children’s center (not seen in the photo), where the older kids can play under the supervision of the DSWD volunteers. Â It’s in this place where we brought the diapers and the milk packs.
Here’s the area where other items are brought in, like clothes and the hygiene kits.
The place may look like some sort of ukay-ukay for some uninformed people. Â But this is where volunteers labor, day in, day out, to sort out useful clothes.
We were able to feed 525 people with the meal packs and bottled water and brought in 200 hygiene kits for men and women and 50 kits for kids containing diapers and milk packs. Â We were all sweaty and tired when we called it a night, after all the lifting and running around, but it was all worth it. Â Some volunteers in there have been doing it for several days already but,Â Villamor Airbase still need more volunteers. Â We want to come back to help and bring more of what is needed. Â So, for those who are interested to join us in volunteering, please do watch out for the details that will be posted here soon.
Thank you so much to Atheist Alliance International, especially to AAI President, Stuart Bechman, for helping out generously and raised funds for the typhoon survivors.
Thanks you very much also to other organizations who have thoughtfully donated to Typhoon Yolanda survivors through PATAS: Â Atheist Foundation of Australia, International Humanist and Ethical Union andÂ Black Non-believers, Inc.
Thank you also to American Humanist Association for making a successful fundraising, whose proceeds went to Ms. Marissa Torres-Langseth’s project in Cebu, Hilotongon Island Project.
To the individual donors…our heartfelt gratitude to all of you.
For this project’s expenses:
|FoodÂ PackÂ (Â AdoboÂ andÂ RiceÂ )||525Â PCS||PHPÂ 13,000.00|
|BottledÂ Water||550Â PCS||PHPÂ 6,600.00|
|CoreÂ MeetingÂ (Â 11Â PeopleÂ )||PHPÂ 1,591.00|
|VolunteersÂ FoodÂ (Â 25Â PeopleÂ )||PHPÂ 2,206.00|
|Alcohol,Â NapkinÂ andÂ Toothpaste||PHPÂ 7,766.75|
|SoapÂ andÂ Milk||PHPÂ 4,340.15|
|ToothbrushÂ andÂ Diapers||PHPÂ 2,200.25|
|ReliefÂ GoodÂ DonationÂ toÂ NormanÂ Cinco||PHPÂ 500.00|
|GasÂ forÂ VanÂ 1||PHPÂ 500.00|
|GasÂ andÂ DriverÂ FeeÂ VanÂ 2||PHPÂ 2,000.00|
|GasÂ forÂ VanÂ 3||PHPÂ 500.00|
|OtherÂ Transpo||PHPÂ 1,250.00|
|TotalÂ CashÂ Out||PHPÂ 42,754.15|