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  • Writer's pictureKay Sandberg

Climate Crisis Update: Philippines

On December 16, 2021 category 5 Typhoon Rai struck the Philippines, bringing devastating damage across the central region. Global Force for Healing network partner, Bumi Wadah and fellow partner Bumi Sehat (Indonesia) have responded with disaster relief efforts to support communities reeling in the wake of the destruction. Although experienced in disaster relief, staff on the ground are facing unprecedented challenges, compounded by the current COVID crisis. There was very little International Disaster Response in the beginning, and COVID restrictions have prevented new volunteers from being able to enter the Philippines, leaving communities affected by the disaster with little or no help. 

Family on Jao, Bohol salvages what's left of their home

In a January 2022 update to Kay Sandberg, Robin Lim, Founder of Bumi Sehat, illustrated the dire situation facing tens of thousands of families. Families have been without shelter, power, and running water, isolated from help and supplies. Consequently, the cost of basic resources like drinking water have become inflated and are very scarce. The number of dead is a little more than a thousand, with tens of thousand left homeless and with limited access to basic resources or ability to fish for a living. More recently, trusted NGO's including Direct Relief, the Wadah Foundation, Earth Company and Peace Boat have come in with support.

Bumi Wadah Philippines still urgently needs funding via Bumi Sehat's Disaster Relief Fund:

Bumi Wadah (Philippines) was founded in the wake of the 2013 super typhoon Haiyan. Founders of the organization were involved in mobilizing early disaster response and through doing so, forged local partnerships and came to recognize the most pressing needs of communities. Thus, the focus of the organization was created to address the most pertinent and life-threatening issues facing community members. This includes maternal and neonatal care, disaster preparedness and relief, capacity building through Midwifery skills, culturally sensitive community healthcare, and education that prioritizes women and girls. Bumi Wadah operates on three main principles: respect for nature, respect for culture, and the implementation of the science of medicine. Through understanding the intersectionality of these principles, the organization holistically supports the people it serves.

New ambulance on the ground in Palawan!

As a result of its location and environmental characteristics, the Philippines and Indonesia have been directly impacted by the Climate Crisis. Typhoons, eruptions, floods, landslides, earthquakes, have become more frequent and powerful as the Crisis intensifies. Bumi Wadah and Bumi Sehat therefore prioritize disaster response. In the wake of the most recent disaster affecting the area surrounding the new Palawan birth center (2021), has mobilized relief efforts to support reeling community members. Bumi Wadah personnel are providing disaster relief through distribution of Family Survival Buckets which contain hygiene supplies, food, water filters, tarps, tools, and solar lights. Although impacted by the typhoon, Bumi-Wadah’s two birth centers/community clinics are mostly intact, and the building in Aborland is being used as staging areas to organize the disaster relief efforts. The organization is using their ambulance and food truck for the distribution of food and disaster relief supplies. Normally during disasters, a shipping corridor is formed to allow donations from overseas to reach the Philippines, without duty fees from customs. Unfortunately, COVID has complicated shipping processes worldwide. With the logistics being much slower, the members of the organization have had to turn to local sources for supplies, complicated by impacts of the storm.

This disaster illustrates the complexity and gravity of climate issues. As climate disasters increase, Compassionate Birth Network partners are facing unique challenges, and supporting their community members has taken on new elements. In the wake of this turmoil, Bumi Wadah has impressively balanced various roles and stepped up to support community members in grave conditions. Perhaps this support has in part been made possible through the raw recognition of the inevitable changes the Climate Crisis will bring, the value placed on anticipatory preparedness, and understanding the link between social and environmental community needs.

Palawan school serves as a temporary shelter

Guest Blog by Eliza Carlson, RN--thank you, Eliza!

Postscript from Kay: These are climate change lessons all of us must heed and learn from. I am grateful beyond words for the leadership of Ibu (Mother) Robin Lim of Yayasan Bumi Sehat and Tet Maniego & her team in the Philippines for being the courageous way-showers.

To donate to Bumi Wadah (Philippines) via fellow Partner Bumi Sehat's Disaster Relief Fund:



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