Often, it's a lot easier to be apathetic in the world. Not to be touched by the horrible things that are happening everywhere. To shut our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts... To war, famine, natural disasters...
Over the last few days, I have been fully aware of the devastation of a massive typhoon that hit the land of my birth, the Philippines, known as Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda, as known locally).
As I looked through my Facebook feed, waiting to hear from friends and family through the devastation, I felt relief knowing everyone close enough to me were safe. But, reading through the news like this one from the BBC and seeing photos like these on different websites, my heart hurt.
So many people affected by this tragedy: Hungry. Displaced. Dead. The tears, the loss, the pain... it's heartbreaking. Reading stories of parents and children slipping away from each other as torrential rains poured. Losing their homes, their loved ones...
It's hard enough imagining the loss of inconsequential things like phones and computers... What is it like to lose so many important things all at once? I do not know. And, I'm not going to pretend that I know what that's like, regardless of what I've been through. I can only imagine the worst pain I've had to be magnified a million times.
That's why I can't help but cry and feel helpless in a situation like this one.
With millions displaced and up to 10,000 feared dead - and everything else that came with all of these - what is there to do?
Thoughts and prayers are good, but I also believe in doing something else - no matter how little. Small actions can make a difference.
And yes, even though I feel that giving money doesn't seem enough, it's something. If I can't be there to help physically, I would at least like to enable people who CAN be there in the front lines to do their jobs. And, a small donation can do just that.
Having met and dealt with many people who work for amazing nonprofit organisations in the Philippines, I know that I can trust that they're doing incredible things during this terrible time.
There are many organisations that we can send our donations to. That choice alone can be quite overwhelming. So, I ended up using a basic guideline:
1. I'd like my donation to go directly to the aid of the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. That's why I passed up on organisations whose "donate" button sent me to a general "international crisis" fund.
2. I want to donate to a local organisation who's already doing the work in the affected areas. Reading news articles that pointed me to organisations who are already sending in people and aid made me look at their work more closely. This way, I can just support what they've started.
3. I need the donation process to be simple and straightforward, and one I can help to promote to others who might want to donate too. That's why I liked donation pages that offer several options to send in the money - from Paypal and online credit cards to cheques and bank transfers.
This is how I ended up sending my support to the Philippine Red Cross at this time.
But, you might have a different set of guidelines on how you want to send in your help. This article by CNN - How to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan - can serve as a good guide, as it offers information to different organisations that you can support.
At this time, P1,000 (One thousand pesos) is only approximately AU$25 (Twenty five Australian dollars). It's not much, but it can provide some food, medicine, and other necessities for some Filipinos who are badly hurting right now.
I've lost track of how much things cost back in the Philippines, but if I remember correctly, P100 (one hundred pesos) or AU$2.50 (Australian two dollars and fifty cents) can buy someone a few basic meals.
And yes, apart from donating, you might also want to encourage people you know to donate too. Every little bit helps.
- New Zealand government pledges over $2,000,000 worth of aid to victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, supporting NGOs doing relief work in the Philippines. Great job, NZ! Thank you.
- My new home country, Australia, has pledged about AU$10,000,000 worth of aid to the Philippines to help out those who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Thank you, Australia. As I sit here in the comfort of our country, I am grateful for the help that you're giving the people from my first homeland.
- Grateful too, for US troops helping out, for the UN, European commission, and the rest of the world who are sending in their thoughts, support, and all kinds of aid to the Filipino people.