Philippines relief efforts raise thousands

Cayman residents, schools and businesses were quick to rally behind the Cayman Islands Red Cross to raise $34,369 for the agency’s Philippines Disaster Relief Fund.

philippines relief

The three typhoons, which hit the Philippines in September and October causing loss of life, flooding and homelessness in many parts of the country, prompted the Cayman Islands Red Cross to set up its successful Philippines Disaster Relief Fund. Photo: AP

Residents were stung into action after the island nation was hit by three back-to-back typhoons starting in late September, which are estimated to have killed more than 500 people.

Red Cross Disaster Manager Hemant Balgobin said Cayman residents were moved by the fact that neighbours, co-workers and employees had been directly affected by the savage storms.

‘Many Filipinos who work here lost everything in the storms and have family members who are still in dire straits,’ he said.

According to Mr. Balgobin, corporate donations came mainly from Grand Cayman’s three supermarkets, the Island’s media outlets and Dicigel and Tortuga Rum Company.

The appeal’s biggest fundraiser was October’s radio-thon. That single fundraiser raised more than $20,000 in two days.

One of the radio-thon’s chief fundraisers, Jeremy Ebanks, Tortuga’s general manager, said: ‘I knew that many of our staff and their families were directly affected by the typhoon. I wanted to do something to help ease the burden of all the Filipino community in this time of need.

‘We are blessed to have many great relationships with our local businesses and I made calls to many of them to help organise the radio-thon. Without all of their help none of this would have been possible.

‘The tremendous display of generosity by so many locals and all the Filipino community is a true testament as to how close we all can work together as a unified community. We are extremely thankful to all businesses and individuals that helped to facilitate in the raising of funds for this unfortunate disaster.’

The single largest corporate donation came from Foster’s Food Fair, which gave a four-figure cash donation for the appeal and an additional amount was raised selling hotdogs with chips and drinks at their stores.

‘None of this would have been possible without those companies coming together to make it a truly community effort,’ Mr. Balgobin said.

‘It should also be noted, that outside of their direct contributions, through the Red Cross, many of these companies also assisted their own staff members who have also been affected in some way or form,’ he noted.

The schools that contributed were Cayman Prep (infant department and high schools); Truth for Youth and East End Primary school.

According to the Red Cross, the monies will be given to on-the-ground aid agencies.

Mr. Balgobin told the Caymanian Compass: ‘We are donating all the funds directly to the Philippines Red Cross, which is currently assisting 100,000 families: helping meet their specific needs including shelter, water sanitation and food supplies.

‘It is also a community effort in the Philippines,’ he added. ‘The Red Cross [there] is working with other agencies including local Rotary Clubs.’

The Compass was informed that the International Red Cross, based in Geneva, Switzerland, had also raised about 3.5 million Swiss francs to assist with the operation.

For more information, contact the Cayman Islands Red Cross at 949-6785, ext. 22.