A Call for Solidarity: Collaboration for the Philippines

TyphoonOn November 10, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, leaving parts of the country in devastation and chaos. Approximately 10,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives during this storm. Photos of the typhoon’s destruction have brought tears not only to the eyes of those who live in the Philippines, but also to those who are part of the Filipino diaspora around the world. Both Filipino citizens as well as Filipinos who live in other countries are gearing their efforts to rebuild the nation. Fortunately, they are not alone in these efforts.

Other organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, the World Food Programme, Oxfam, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and others have tried their best to help those in need in the Philippines through relief projects and fundraisers. The solidarity between these organizations is amazing to witness and this solidarity is growing and will keep on growing. The World Youth Alliance defines solidarity as the “unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good.” It is beautiful to watch how this collaboration is created. Because these organizations each have a different focus, every particular sector of a country’s relief efforts is given proper attention. Aside from larger projects by these organizations, funds are also being collected by others elsewhere reinforcing the growing solidarity between those with one goal: rebuild the Philippines.

Social media efforts have also risen as a result of this tragedy. Various hashtags have been used to spread the word about the tragedy in the Philippines such as #Stronger PH and #BangonPH, which means, Rise Philippines. Although various groups and organizations already work day and night to help their fellow kababayans (“countrymen”) with activities such as collecting donations and packing relief goods, there is a lot more we could do here in the United States.

Our efforts can be viewed as two-fold: awareness and action. Both are essential for us to help rebuild the Philippines and join those who were affected in solidarity. For example, on my campus, I have set up fundraising opportunities to benefit some of the organizations mentioned above in their efforts to bring disaster relief to the Philippines. I am also helping to plan a talent showcase, an open mic, or a lecture to spread awareness and collect funds for the cause. Whether it is through tabling for donations or collecting donations at events, there are plenty of other ways those who are in the United States can help. The first step is to become aware of and acknowledge the disaster which inspires us to action. Whether you help out with these events, donate clothing, donate a dollar, or donate twenty dollars, actions at times like these are neither big nor small. Any action is progressive.

At the time it is needed the most, solidarity never fails to arise. Whether it is a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Haiti or a tsunami in Indonesia, many join in solidarity to help rebuild a nation in need. Any effort is a step towards a united goal to rebuild a nation. This testifies to the strong spirit of both the nation and the citizens. Solidarity knows no borders. Whether you are in the Philippines, the United States, Europe, or another country, there is always an action which you can take and whatever you do is sure to make an impact. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once said, “Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.”

Now it is up to you! Will you join us in solidarity in this time of need?

For ways to help out you can also read this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/09/philippines-haiyan-how-to-help-_n_4247106.html

 By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters