By Atty Alan Gomes
The 15th of December 2021 is a day that will forever be seared into the hearts and minds of the Filipino people and the global Filipino diaspora.
On this date, the Philippines, a nation that has been continually wrecked by the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in particular the Visaya’s region was hit by a natural calamity in the form of a Category 5 Cyclone known as Typhoon Odette (Rai).
Christmas celebrations and cheer were not to be on the cards for the Philippines in 2021 as Typhoon Odette struck the Philippines with such force that it has left an unmitigated trail of destruction and disaster in its wake. Typhoon Odette has caused untold grief for the Philippine nation and the significant number of Filipinos scattered around the four corners of the globe.
The raw numbers alone of the devastation caused by Typhoon Odette are staggering. In all, 38 separate provinces totalling over 7725 barangays were affected and many are still without power and water. Over 1.8 million families have been affected with over 500,000 homes being lost and destroyed. Major portions of the Philippine economy have been decimated and it is estimated that just under 7 million persons in the Philippines have personally suffered some kind of loss as a result of Typhoon Odette.
A number of coordinated international relief efforts are currently underway to rebuild infrastructure for the homeless, to provide food and water and to repair local and regional economies. A number of Filipinos in Australia have dug deep into their own pockets to help their fellow Kabayan in this time of extreme need. Joining this communal relief effort, the Filipino Australian Health Workers Association (FAHWA) immediately rallied around their fellow Kabayan in Perth Western Australia to raise much needed funds to assist with the basic necessity recovery efforts.
FAHWA through its efforts raised $4155 from a total of 29 donors. A very special mention must go to Melissa Aguasa of ‘Melissa’s Filipino Shop’ and ‘The Simbang Gabi 2021 held at St Vincents Kwinana by the Southern Catholic Parishes Filipino Community WA who each selflessly donated $1000. Other generous donations came from Ms Paz Madsen ($300), Ms Roschyl Barlow ($200), Ms Florita Hall ($200) and Mr Eric Zorzi ($250) etc.
FAHWA committee members headed by Aida Oakdon and Eden Aquino have been instrumental in dispersing these funds immediately to affected areas.
FAHWA is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission in Australia and will continue to provide further assistance with the collaboration of the other Filipino organisations in Perth, WA throughout 2022 in aiding the ongoing recovery efforts.