JANUARY 14, 2013 | PHILIPPINES
MANILA, Philippines—Over 1,000 people were killed and more than 970,000 were displaced after a powerful typhoon brought destruction across the Philippines on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. One month later, Jehovah’s Witnesses are continuing to provide disaster relief to the victims of Typhoon Bopha (locally known as Pablo).
As of January 7, the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Manila confirmed that, sadly, five Witnesses died as a direct result of the storm. Another was hospitalized after suffering a serious spinal injury. In addition, some 520 Witness families were displaced as 140 homes were destroyed and another 400 damaged.
Representatives from the branch office personally visited the areas affected by the typhoon to assess the damage, organize relief efforts, and give comfort and spiritual assistance to the survivors. The Witnesses formed a disaster relief committee to organize seven relief centers and to assist local volunteers distributing supplies.
In some parts of the country, the storm completely wiped out major food and income sources, including rice paddies, banana plantations, and coconut trees. In response, the Witnesses’ disaster relief committee dispatched trucks carrying over 28,600 pounds of food supplies. However, delivery of supplies to one storm-affected area was virtually impossible because a bridge had been destroyed.
Typhoon Bopha also damaged 15 houses of worship, called Kingdom Halls, and destroyed another 2. However, some of the individuals displaced by the storm received temporary shelter at Kingdom Halls that were not damaged. The relief committee is working to relocate these victims to more suitable homes.
All of the relief efforts are being funded by donations from Jehovah’s Witnesses in the local area as well as the larger international community of Witnesses. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses helps to care for such expenses by utilizing funds donated to the Witnesses’ worldwide work.
Dean Jacek, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines, stated: “We are all mourning the loss of our friends and fellow worshippers and saddened by the damage done by this storm. But we will continue to do what we can to help with relief efforts, including giving spiritual aid and comfort to our neighbors.”
International: J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000
Philippines: Dean Jacek, tel. +63 2 411 6090