THE Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services Officer, Damaris Frick, is entering her third week on the ground in The Philippines. In her most recent report, she confirms that The Salvation Army is making significant progress in responding to the extraordinary and desperate need of Filipino people. The Salvation Army continues to provide lifesaving support to those needing assistance and, as of Saturday, have distributed the equivalent of 273,315 meals. Roughly calculated, one ‘family pack’ feeds five people for seven days, for three meals a day.
Local Salvation Army officials have been quick to employ community members to assist with cooking, cleaning and shopping. This partnership is valued and important, as the Philippines population is keen to assist where possible in their own recovery effort.
The medical team continues to work well and has been well received. Given the large number of team members, they are considering visiting different barangays (districts) in Dulag in addition to the work they are doing in Tacloban. On Saturday 30 November the team opened an afternoon clinic in Nula Tula and saw 103 people who required medical attention. Also, at the request of the Philippine Ministry of Health, the medical teams will commence a vaccination programme immediately.
The Salvation Army team has also conducted an aerial survey of one of the more remote islands. Damaris reports: ‘We joined forces with WFP and UNHAS to undertake a small assessment flight to see one of the islands that reportedly hasn’t received any assistance. Unfortunately the helicopter couldn’t land anywhere on the island but the observation showed that most houses on this island seemed to be intact. The trees and electricity poles were still standing and there were boats out in the sea. We also had a good overview of Tacloban and Dulag, and the devastation there was significant and obvious.’
Speaking of The Salvation Army’s partnerships with other NGOs in the region, she continued: ‘We are in ongoing conversation with WFP, the food cluster and the DSWD with regards to our future distributions. The overall feeling is that it would be best for the coming four weeks to have a few regular locations where The Salvation Army will provide food on a weekly basis and this falls in line with the government’s strategy.’
The value of partnership and working together is evident with the experience and valued training of the International Emergency Services team continuing to play a vital role in keeping The Salvation Army at the forefront of relief operations.
Finally, conversations with communities, cluster members and government officials have proved beneficial as The Salvation Army is already reviewing recovery projects such as roofing and provision of vegetable seeds. This is the first step in what will be a long-term operation for The Salvation Army and partner agencies as together they work to help rebuilt the islands.
Major John Murray
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