Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar are clinging on to the hope that their families in Tacloban, Philippines have survived the fury of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
The island, surrounded by waters from the Pacific Ocean, is the hardest hit place in the Visayas by the typhoon which left an estimated 10,000 people dead. Many of the fatalities were children and elderly drowned by flashfloods.
“They don’t have any clue if their parents and relatives are still alive or not because there was no line of communication,” said a teary-eyed female OFW who visited her office mates on Saturday night along with some friends.
The last time they heard the voice of their parents was on Friday dawn (early morning in the Philippines), an hour before heavy rains and strong winds struck the region.
Some OFWs took emergency leave from work and flew back home last night, hoping to see their children and family once again. They said what was left to them is a deep faith in God and a belief that their prayers will be answered.
Until last night, some couples were still waiting for an official list of possible survivors (on the Internet) but to no avail.
“I don’t think our government has the list at this time,” said Philippine Ambassador Crescente Relacion, who had issued a circular urging Filipino organisations and individuals to help typhoon victims either in cash or kind.
The United Filipino Organisations in Qatar (UFOQ) will be spearheading the massive fund drive with the help of volunteers, embassy officials and its committee members.
Padyak Qatar, a group of Filipino cyclists, will also hold a bike competition for a cause on November 22 in Mesaieed.
A “Chess for a Cause” event, led by the United Sorsoganon – Qatar, is expected to be held on November 29 at the Michael Debakey High School in Madinat Khalifa South.
Relacion said some donations of Asean and other countries will be given directly to the Philippine government.
In his circular, the ambassador noted that donations may be coursed through to the embassy (4483-1585), to UFOQ (5569-8990), or it can be directly deposited to the bank account of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (0435-O21-927-030: Peso account and 0345-021927-530: US dollar account at the Development Bank of the Philippines).
Some government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development are also accepting donations.
He also disclosed that the LBC Express in Qatar, a courier company, is offering a free shipment of donated goods intended for families affected by the recent typhoon.
UFOQ chairman Jhin Tabuzo stressed that they want all help to reach beneficiaries without any delays.
It is learnt that many Filipino organisations and expatriates in different parts of the world are expected to extend a helping hand to their fellowmen in the Visayas affected both the typhoon and the recent earthquake.
“I was also teary-eyed while watching the news especially when I saw little children crying,” said Tabuzo.
A report from Alexander James Thomas from the Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) revealed that they have established three telecom centres in Tacloban city for relief co-ordination before the influx of humanitarian aid arrived.
Ooredoo cuts SMS rate to Philippines
Ooredoo has decided to cut the cost of all international SMS to the Philippines for a week, reducing the rate to Dh10 a message in support of Filipino expatriates living in Qatar following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
“The aim is to enable people to send as many messages as they want to without having to be concerned about the cost. The reduced rate is available to all Hala customers,” Ooredoo said.
Ooredoo is also looking at other mechanisms to support relief work in the affected areas.
Ooredoo Qatar CEO Sheikh Saud bin Nasser al-Thani said: “Qatar will always support our brother nations in times of need, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected. Ooredoo hopes that, by making it easier for people to SMS their friends and loved ones in the Philippines, we can offer some degree of comfort in this difficult time.”
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