On December 27, 2013 VFV staff and volunteers departed for the island community of barangay Planza, located in the Muncipality of Babatngon, a short forty-five minute ride outside of Tacloban City.
Although Planza is not a community that suffered widespread structural damage or loss of life during the storm itself, it is still a barangay in need as the taxing of local resources in Tacloban leaves the community with a real shortage of basic necessities.
GoAbroad.com is a focal point for prospective volunteers and has supported relief organizations, volunteers and efforts in Japan, Haiti, Peru and Pakistan over the years. Typically we advise well-intentioned volunteers to stay away from disaster areas during the initial relief period unless they are trained disaster specialists or medical professionals. Additional mouths to feed and the taxing of the local resources alone is enough to advise volunteers to stay home at least for a while.
Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV) has been providing social welfare support and volunteer placement for over a decade in the area now known to the world as ground zero, where Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made landfall. VFV staff were also victims of the typhoon and needed time to secure their families and find housing. VFV is now back in operation providing the support they always have at their three community centers and through their various local partners. In addition VFV has taken on many more disaster related projects. VFV’s unique history of providing relief food, developing construction projects and providing educational support gives VFV a unique role in the relief effort in Leyte.
On December 17 2013, 40 days after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) caused widespread destruction across the region, Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV) engaged in it’s most ambitious feat of relief work since the beginning of the crisis.
Through co-ordination and partnership with Muslim Charity, a cross-faith U.K. based non-profit, VFV were able to distribute 285 kits of relief to families living in rural communities in Palo and Tanauan, Leyte. Being among VFV’s Board of Trustees and after spending two and a half years with the organization, they asked me to come along for the ride.