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This is our MOBILIZE™ page for our Medika Filipino Food Aid Project for the entire month of November. We began delivering food aid this week, Nov, 17, and you can follow the photos and stories of the families we are helping with your contributions further down in the article. Your money matters, and it means meals and food in the stomachs of hungry children.
We are on the ground in one of the worst affected areas of the Philippines. Families have literally been ripped apart by Typhoon Goni/Rolly. Fathers have had to watch their children washed away in the floodwaters, children have lost parents and the impact of the typhoon is immense Independent sources place the number of children at risk at between 450 00 and 700 000.
I live in this area, the Philippines is my second home, and I have experienced both the storm and it’s effects first hand. I see the affected families and hungry children on a daily basis. I have seen the dead, I have seen the hardship and I can see the problems faced by these families in the next few weeks. They cannot feed their children. They cannot feed themselves and they are in desperate need of our help.
You’ve been contributing to our plea for help over the last few days and we are so, so grateful for every penny you’ve chosen to donate. We’ve been putting your donations to good use and over the next few days, you can see the images here of the families you’ve helped. In some instances, amazing people like young Alex Pulgarin will be thanked personally by the family his money has helped feed (see video below). We love you and we thank you for all your kindness and all your contributions.
If you would like to contribute to this project please follow the link below. Your contribution will be acknowledged on this page and we will personally ensure your money reaches the children who most need it.
Meet the families you’re helping
Delivering food to some of these families has been challenging. Roads are washed away or inaccessible and in some cases, there is no alternative but to go in on foot. For some reason, there is almost always a sodding mountain involved. Not really appreciated when the humidity is off the scales. We made sure our team were all suitably masked up as most of the families we engage with don’t have the luxury of masks and the fear of Covid has been replaced here by hunger. When you’re starving, viruses are the furthest thing from your mind.
The Pitas Family
A mother and an unemployed father with six children. They live on the outskirts of our village, on the edge of a mountain overlooking the Kabilogan river, (yes, the mountain I whined about above) remote and isolated. It is the only place they can afford to erect the ramshackle construction they live in. The children aren’t used to foreigners and still exhibit tremendous shyness when confronted by one. Normally they’d be fascinated by the camera, but you can see where their focus is in this instance.
The Balquin Family
Eight children and two parents. An almost carbon copy of the story above. The mother is working in the cornfields for a pittance every day and the father is a casual laborer who lives from one payday to the next. Work has all but dried up in the wake of the typhoon. We find the sister at home with dad and the kids.
Meals on wheels. The only way to get around in the Philippines is by tricycle, they can go places cars just wont fit in and their drivers, although licensed, trace their ancestry back to Genghis Khan. Completely fearless and … well, lets just leave it there. Here’s Dennis, looking dapper as ever, getting ready to take us out for the day.
The Benlayo Family
Forced to move from the center of the village after their house burnt down, this family has now moved to the outer fringe and has erected a temporary shelter on ground they don’t own. The husband and wife, along with their four young children, face a hugely uncertain future.
Sario Oplida and her husband
This old couple are completely destitute. Both in their eighties, her husband can often be seen wondering down the hill, coconuts in hand to try and negotiate a trade. Some days it’s for food, other times, a cigarette or two. They were immensely grateful for the food and kept enquiring if we could help them repair their roof, still damaged from the typhoon.
Eighty years old, this old lady can handle a beating and is as tough as nails. She lives alone in a makeshift construction on the edge of town and I cannot imagine how she gets by. A crutch helps her walk and she still has a smile for her visitors. You cant kill spirit and it will take more than a typhoon to stop this little old lady.
The Arcilla Family
This family lost their home to the typhoon. A husband, wife, and four children, they have found temporary shelter on a friend’s property. The husband is a casual laborer.
The Monje Family
Five children and one on the way. The husband is a part-time laborer and the wife doesn’t work. Real poverty and your heart bleeds for the children. Her gratitude for the food was overwhelming.
The Quilala Family
Although the husband works as one of the Barangay (Village) Tanod’s (police) his meager salary is woefully inadequate and on the heels of the typhoon, they have been plunged into a very dire situation where they are struggling to feed their five children. We met up with him at his place of work, at the local Barangay hall.
The Nota Family
An estranged mother with five children. She sells Balut (if you don’t know what these eggs are, I recommend staying ignorant) and her income is woefully inadequate, Covid and the typhoon seriously having affected these vendors. I warned you about the eggs!
The Patiam Family (Alex, this is where we spent your money)
A grandmother with the cutest bundle of little girls. There are six children and without a husband to provide, things are beyond tough for this family. It hasn’t broken their spirits though and you can see it in the video. Her son has been forced into her house, bringing more mouths to feed. Alex, there’s a special thanks from these little faces embedded for you below.
The Owogowog Family
This old couple lost their home completely to the typhoon. They’ve been put up in temporary shelter and were thrilled to receive food relief. We even managed to coax Dennis out from behind the tricycle wheel for this one.
The Pamat Family
A single mother with five children. The father of the youngest child contributes to the household but it isn’t nearly enough to keep every tummy filled. She was overwhelmed with the generosity your donations have made possible.
The Benisa Family
Possibly the saddest case we visited today, two families, two mothers and two fathers, simple farmers, trying to provide for a household of thirteen people. There are seven children in the house, along with a grandparent. You can see the living conditions for yourself from the photos. We didn’t want to intrude and simply left the goods at the door with the eldest daughter.
Our Current Benefactors
Medika would like to give a huge shoutout to the following people who have chosen to help the children in our area of the Philippines. We are so grateful for your kindness and the children and their families thank you.
Dr. Michael Burg, Dr. Patricia Farrell, Lisa Bradburn, Teresa Pulgarin, Alex Pulgarin, Dr. Jeff Livingstone. Vincenza Zurlo, Kyle Gordon, Jordan Clevenger, Pia Bertelsen, 101 Battalion – the Lads (you know who), Dr. Hesham A Hassaballa, Hershy Marton and Janie Chouinard,
We are still far from done and with good fortune and more of your selfless donations, plan another drive for the last week of November. Keep up to speed with us here and on BeingWell.
Round 2 – November 26
I’m thrilled to announce that, thanks again to your generosity, we’ve been able to fund a second run, and with good fortune, may even get in a third by the end of the month. We spent yesterday packing parcels, each specifically designed for the family it’s going to. On Saturday, we’re delivering and we’ll upload the photos right after so you can see first hand how much your money has meant to these children and starving families. This was the kitchen floor yesterday.
Almira Battaler and her four daughters
This family is a special case and I wanted to put them at the start of the update to highlight their plight and to bring home to our readers just how much we have to be grateful for. The mother lying on the bench is Almira Bataller. She recently gave birth to a little girl who turns one soon. It’s her fourth child and her last. Almira is dying and the little faces in the photo below will soon be on their own.
Almost immediately after the birth of her fourth child, Almira started experiencing problems with her legs. She has gradually lost the use of them. The muscles have atrophied and she has no sensation from her hips down. We found her lying on the bench, a catheter dangling loosely beside her. Her abdomen has already started to distend and she is clearly dying.
It’s unlikely she’ll receive the medical attention she needs and from her current appearance, it may have already been left too late. We aren’t going to simply leave it there. It’s unacceptable and I’ve requested her family provide me with copies of her clinical reports so we can seek advice from the relevant experts. This isn’t my field of expertise but I would hazard a guess of neurological trauma.
We cannot simply sit idly by and watch these children lose their mother without a fight. Watch this space.
A widower on her own and our first stop of the day, out in the sticks. I missed the photo of the caribou (water buffalo) blocking our path up the hill, when we got back he’d moved on.
The Balquin Family
Four children, a couple and a grandmother. We’ve figured out now that if we give the kids lollipops, they stick around for the photo and don’t hide in the house.
Merley stays alone with her youngest son in a ramshackle home against the mountain. She is ill and the child’s future uncertain.
The Baru family
A remote settlement with a young daughter. They’ve been given shelter and a caretaker position on a coconut and agricultural plot.
The Sapatos family
Twine over the last few months I’ve seen this house dragged back upright as it keeps getting blown over by the typhoons. Now, its just been left at a slant. The eldest son is wheelchair bound and the family exist on subsistence labor in the fields when available.
The Nacario family
Seven children here and only the father has occasional work as a casual laborer.
A widower on her own, forced onto a piece of inaccessible ground against the mountain where she’s built herself a rough home.
An early morning view from the top of one of those pesky hills. Yes, the road is at the bottom, with the rice fields in the distance. Someone find me a city planner.
The Placios family
A grandmother caring for three grandchildren. You can see the damage to her house from the photo.
The Millena family
Another family with three children, left to survive with the grandparents. Their home was completely demolished by the storm and they’ve made themselves temporary shelter in a friends back yard
The Manga and Lorgonio families
This little settlement is in the middle of the rice fields and is home to three families. There’s no shelter or hiding from the typhoon out here and these little homes bear the full brunt of the storms as you can see from the images below.
The Igbuhay Families
These two families live beside each other on the river bank and were flooded when the storm hit. Luckily all the family members survived, but the houses sustained significant damage. Four adults and six children, all in desperate need of help.
A widower who lost her home to the typhoon
The Datoon family
A wife and four children living in what remains of their house after the storm. The husband is a casual laborer when there is work.
Our most eligible bachelor, Antonio lives on his own and rarely finds work. He was out looking for work when we came knocking and he showed up later at the house, only too glad for the food.
That’s it for now. We’ve managed to donate food to over 40 families so far and we are ever hopeful of a last few dollars as the month draws to a close. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity so far. It’s made a huge difference in our area and you can rest soundly knowing that while you enjoy your Thanksgiving meals, there are other happy little mouths chewing away, all thanks to you.