(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was a powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone.
The eye of the Typhoon went right over Malapascua, a small island I had grown to love from visiting it many times to dive. I couldn’t help but think about the locals there, their houses made of sticks and tin roofs, where would they shelter? Looking up the intensity of the typhoon on the internet worried me, I thought if anyone stayed on the island they would die for sure.
I messaged friends there on facebook telling them to get out, I had no response, and then it hit and silence for days. Then the communication came in, every one on the island was alive by some miracle. The locals had sheltered in the Western concrete buildings, they had lost all their belongings and homes but kept their lives.
I messaged Andrea the owner of Thresher shark divers straight away asking how we could help or donate money, she begun a fundraiser and I decided to do my bit here and help. I had just started at my company Silver Chef who already give a lot to Opportunity International, and I did two presentations at work to raise money for the relief.
Andrea had meanwhile been ramping up the relief efforts in London with a fundraising rock concert and had a lot of support from divers all over the world wanting to donate and help. She was interviewed by the ABC 612AM radio and gave them my details and next thing I was on there two asking for donations.
You can read about it here: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3891397.htm and listen to the recording.
I ended up raising twenty five hundred dollars which goes a very long way in the Philippines.
It was a horrible reminder about how we really take for granted what we have in Australia. If something like that happened here you would have insurance, you would have family and friends you could stay with, charities that would shelter you.
In Malapascua they had nothing but hope in strangers caring enough to donate money and supplies so they could rebuild their houses, schools and lives. In Malapascua their whole economy depends and thrives on the dive industry. So an important and essential part in helping the locals was also getting the dive operators back in business. Luckily there was minimal to no damage to the world renown dive sites and divers flocked back to support the eco tourism there.
Malapascua is a little gem of paradise and what they need now more than anything is tourism to help boost their economy and get them back on their feet.