Iglesia Ni Cristo Starts ‘Yolanda’ Mission


      Business Mirror
      November 18, 2013, p. A12

Ormoc City—The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) recently began its series of relief distribution and medical mission to the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) in the Visayas, starting in the city of Ormoc and in Carigara town, near Tacloban City, Leyte.

As of Saturday, November 16, some 50,000 individuals have been given relief packs complete with 3 kilos of rice each, canned goods, noodles and bottled water in the combined relief distribution and medical mission in the areas reached by the INC mission.

Volunteer doctors and nurses also gave free medical consultation and free medicines.  All these efforts were done under the “Lingap sa Mamamayan” (Aid for Humanity) project in cooperation with the Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation Inc., the INC’s charitable arm.

INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo directed the immediate delivery of food and medical service in the hardest-hit areas of the super typhoon to give comfort and hope to the survivors, most of whom had been suffering from the lack of basic necessities since Yolanda struck last week.

The INC chapel in Ormoc City and in Carigara, Leyte, served as the centers of the relief efforts and medical missions on November 14 and 16, respectively.

“This is just the start,” said minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr., INC’s general auditor.  “There will be simultaneous relief distribution and medical missions in 13 other sites in the affected areas in the Visayas on Sunday, November 17.”

Other relief distribution and medical missions will also be held this week by the INC in the areas severely hit by Yolanda, Dr. Sergie Santos of the FYM Foundation Inc. said.

They are also preparing a big relief distribution and medical mission in Tacloban City.

Ormoc City was the first stop of the INC’s Lingap sa Mamamayan that started around noon of November 14 until around 5 p.m., just before the worship service in the evening.  Some 30,000 relief packs were distributed that day.

Two days later, on Saturday, November 16, another round of relief distribution and medical mission was held in the town of Carigara that served at least 30,000 more people from several barangays coming from as far as Alang-alang, San Miguel, Jaro, Palo and Tacloban City.

Volunteer doctors and nurses gave free medical checkups and medicines, including anti-tetanus vaccines.

Typhoon survivors who came to get relief and medical aid in Ormoc City and in Carigara, Leyte, said this was the first time that a medical mission, combined with massive relief distribution, reached the place since Yolanda struck the province with powerful winds that knocked down the roofs and broke walls of concrete structures.

“We cannot buy medicines anywhere.  All the drugstores are closed,” said Marissa Eston, 31, who came to Carigara, all the way from San Miguel town in Leyte, to get medical treatment and food aid. Her right foot had been hit by a galvanized iron sheet that fell from their house’s roof.

“I tried to save the rice bag we had in the kitchen when the winds howled and part of the roof in the kitchen caved in,” Eston said.

Jasim Alvarez, 12, had two puncture wounds in his right foot.  He was treated by the doctors and given a shot of anti-tetanus toxoid as a preventive measure.

The people who came had different stories to tell about how they survived Yolanda’s wrath.

Susan Villarante came to the relief-distribution center in Carigara all the way from Tacloban City.  She came with her two sons.  Her youngest son is studying in Manila.     They survived Yolanda when her family sought refuge in INC’s worship building in Tacloban City.  She recalled how one of her sons had to plod through the mud and the streets, where lifeless bodies of typhoon victims were all around after Yolanda’s fury subsided.

The INC district minister in Tacloban, Nicanor Bernardo, said they had called on to the people in the area to evacuate their homes days before the typhoon struck.  The night before that, they again urged the people to enter INC’s chapel. One of those they were able to persuade was Villarante and her family.

Bernardo said there were people, many of whom were non-INC members, from three of the barangays in Tacloban City who came to seek refuge in INC’s worship building.  All of those inside the INC building survived the strong winds and storm surge that had killed many people in Tacloban City alone.

Some of these survivors from Tacloban City traveled to Carigara when they learned of the relief distribution in the area.  Relief goods, they said, were hard to come by, although they have heard in the news of help pledged for the survivors of Yolanda.

Most of the people who sought medical attention on Thursday and Saturday had respiratory tract infections, such as severe coughs and colds, as they had been exposed to the elements since Yolanda destroyed their homes.  People also suffered from lacerations that they got from the yero or galvanized iron sheets, and puncture wounds from iron nails.  They were all given tetanus toxoid by the doctors.  Some were also given leptospirosis medicines.

Many people also suffered from gastroenteritis due to contaminated food and water.

“People were telling us, ‘Thank God we’re still alive,’” said Dr. Florencia Munsayac, who was among the volunteer doctors and nurses from Metro Manila who participated in the medical mission.  The other volunteers came from Cebu City.

Thankfully, the INC worship buildings in Ormoc City and Carigara, where the relief distribution and medical missions were held, withstood the super typhoon’s bashing.

The next INC medical mission and relief distribution is set to be held in areas severely damaged in northern Cebu, in Palawan and in other areas in the Visayan region, where Yolanda made landfall.