Tag Archives: appeal

Boxing Day tsunami: the lessons we have learned

Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s Humanitarian Director, reflects on the devastating events of 26 December 2004 and what we have learned in the decade since.

Please pray for all those whose lives were torn apart>>

27747On Boxing Day ten years ago, I was, like many people, taking a Christmas break. My family and I were staying in our normal Christmas hideaway – a very remote croft on the Isle of Skye. I remember texts coming in on my phone early in the morning from a friend and colleague in India saying there had been a massive tsunami. But it wasn’t until a few hours later that the scale of the disaster started to unfold.

I vividly remember coordinating the CAFOD response from a tiny attic bedroom in the cottage, set amongst a wild landscape and deep in snow. My three-year-old daughter sat downstairs next to a roaring fire, playing with her Christmas toys, while my son of just three weeks lay sleeping next to me. There was a sense of bizarre calmness, while on the other side of the world there was total destruction and appalling human loss. In the province of Aceh in Indonesia, over 170,000 people lost their lives.   Continue reading

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Filed under disaster, Emergency, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, tsunami

Philippines typhoon: Amalia’s story

Thanks to your donations, we have worked with local carpenters to build permanent homes.

Thanks to your donations, we have worked with local carpenters to build permanent homes.

One year since Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) hit the Philippines, we have helped thousands of people move into new homes.

Find out about the typhoon and our response>>

“I thought Typhoon Yolanda would be like other typhoons,” says 83-year-old Amalia. “But it was more like four typhoons in one.”

Amalia, who lives on the northern tip of the island of Iloilo in the Philippines, shudders as she remembers the roar of the wind: it was deafening, she says, like the revving of a bus engine amplified many times over.

With her roof about to be blown away above her, Amalia’s son urged her to take shelter in their duck-house, which he thought would be stronger than her bamboo home.

“I didn’t want to go outside, luckily,” Amalia says. “The duck-house was the first thing to be destroyed.”

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Ebola crisis: hope and sacrifice

By Catherine Mahony, CAFOD’s Emergency Coordinator for West Africa, who is coordinating our response to the Ebola Crisis in Sierra Leone. Please donate to our Ebola Crisis Appeal>>

Caritas_Sierra Leone_Tommy Trenchard_Oct (12)Today was a great day: for the first time in two months, all CAFOD’s national staff came back into the office to work on our programme of Ebola response operations. Until now, for safety, many staff have been working from home.

Everyone returned to the office with enthusiasm – it has been hard to be separated, at home, apart from our teammates. Sometimes the sense of powerlessness has been difficult, but we all felt it was a privilege to be able to contribute tangibly to stopping Ebola and help people when they need it most.

We started the day by sharing our hopes and fears. We’ve all been affected by the Ebola crisis in some way.  Many of us are afraid: of the everyday dangers of infection, of risks to our loved ones and of what will become of the country. We were pleased to find that our strengths outweighed our weaknesses, and our hopes were greater than our fears.

Please donate to our Ebola Crisis Appeal>>

Some of the things we thought would make it harder for us are in fact the things that will make us stronger: Dennis, CAFOD’s programme officer for the safe burial programme, pointed out that Sierra Leoneans have come through a long and bitter civil war, and this makes them more resilient: they know that they have survived and learned from that. The country and its people have been rebuilt, so people know that they have what it takes to face this enormous challenge.

We also acknowledged the sacrifices people are making, small and large. We noted how hard it is to hold back the handshakes and hugs of greeting, how difficult it is not to travel to see families in other districts, and for children to stay at home, bored and restless, because schools are closed and they can’t play outside. But we saw that people are observing the safety measures, because they believe that by doing it they will end the crisis sooner: people are positive; they are making these sacrifices because they believe this crisis will end.

At the weekend, Dennis lost his uncle to Ebola. He wasn’t able to attend the funeral and his family have been shaken by the loss. Soon Dennis will be training new safe burial teams in Kambia District in the north of the country. I can only imagine how difficult this will be for him. But I know that his experience will help him to work with the teams to ensure that the burials are safe but dignified, so that families can say goodbye to their loved ones with the respect and care that they deserve. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Sierra Leone

Philippines typhoon: clean water

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land, with winds of up to 200 mph. But one of the worst aspects of the disaster was the storm surge: huge waves of water speeding inland, up to 25 feet high, destroying everything in their path, carrying cars, trees, even whole rows of houses hundreds of metres from their original location.

In other words, the typhoon was actually two disasters in one: extremely strong winds blowing apart people’s shelter, while a tsunami-like wall of water swept in from the sea towards them.

Please donate to our appeal>> 

Ten-year-old Honeyrea, who was taking shelter in a gymnasium on Leyte island, remembered the moment the storm surge hit. “We were saying a lot of prayers,” she said. “We said the Our Father and prayed the rosary. There was strong wind, and then there were large waves.

“The water came up to my waist. It happened in less than a minute and it was rising fast. We had to run upstairs. I couldn’t stop crying, because my mother was left downstairs.

“Then, the roof of the gym fell through. I was blank for three minutes. My father was talking to me, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.” Continue reading

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Philippines typhoon: one month on

Armoud and his family lost their home in the Philippines typhoon. They have received a shelter kit from one of CAFOD's partners. "All the people here are happy. I am thankful to CRS and all the people who are helping us.”

Armoud and his family lost their home in the Philippines typhoon. They have received a shelter kit from one of CAFOD’s partners. “This was the strongest typhoon I have experienced… I am thankful to all the people who are helping us.”

Please donate to our appeal>>

CAFOD’s Nick Harrop has recently returned from the Philippines.

One month since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, you can see its impact from the moment you land on Leyte island. The roof of Tacloban airport has been blown off. The baggage carousel has been washed away, leaving only its ripped based underneath. The runway is covered in patches of standing water, with wood and corrugated iron swept to one side so that planes can land.

Driving south to the town of Palo is extraordinary. I can’t see a single building that hasn’t been severely damaged. Most homes have been flattened. Sometimes there are signs by the wreckage: “No trisspass!” It’s hard to see how these could be enforced. For miles, there are nothing more than twisted steel shells or haphazard piles of wood. Some buildings have been swept hundreds of metres from their original locations.

There are poignant sights – a giant teddy-bear face-down in the mud, a school sign resting in front of a collapsed building. But there’s also a remarkable sense of activity: carpenters sawing toppled coconut trees, workers in hard hats fixing roofs, bulldozers clearing the rubble. One month on, it is amazing to see the energy and determination with which people are rebuilding their lives.

Working with the local Church, CAFOD has been on the front line of the relief effort. In the first month, we have reached thousands of people, providing food, shelter, clean water, hygiene kits, tools, latrines and cash-for-work schemes through which people can clear debris and rebuild their lives. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, CAFOD, Philippines