Responding in the Philippines

On November 20, 2013, Presbyterian World Mission sponsored a Webinar discussing updates on the current situation in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. The purpose of the webinar was to learn how the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding to the people of the Philippines affected by the typhoon and how U.S. Presbyterians can faithfully and effectively be involved in the recovery.

Panelists included:

  • Neal Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) and host of the webinar
  • Dessa Palm & Cobbie Palm, Mission Co-workers in the Philippines
  • Bruce Reyes-Chow, writer, blogger, and Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008
  • Laurie Kraus, Coordinator of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
  • Mienda Uriarte, World Mission Area Coordinator for Asia & the Pacific
  • Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary of the UCC in the Philippines

The panelists informed us of the current situation in their organization and field. Some of the highlights of the webinar: Bruce Reyes-Chow happened to be in the Philippines during the Typhoon and offered an eyewitness account to the situation. Dessa Palm and Cobbie Palm talked about the Mission Co-Workers and Young Adult Volunteers who are working on the ground in the Phllippines. Laurie Kraus gave an update on the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to provide assistance through ecumenical partners in the Philippines. I was surprised to find that some of what the U.S. media portrays, e.g. the negativity of many people in the face of the disaster, is not true.

Though the immediate goal is to aid and relief work, the goal is long-term recovery. Because the Philippines is prone to natural disasters, long-term rebuilding will have to attend to sustainability.

One thing to note was that there should be caution in people from the U.S. taking part in aid/relief work. As our role is to partner and help financially, physically, and spiritually, it is crucial to channel compassion into the most effective means such as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

The Webinar was overall encouraging, setting a reminder that we are all together and reassuring about the strength of the people of the Philippines individually and collectively and the efforts of faithful Presbyterians to support our sisters and brothers. Let us continue to pray for the people of the Philippines.

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