For days after the typhoon hit the main island of Negros Occidental and surrounding islands, I didn’t know how bad things were because I couldn’t get through to Roger, and no one on Molocaboc could get a message out either. Those were some very frightening days to say the least.
After almost 5 full days of no communication, I finally got an email from Roger:
Nov 12 4:30am
It was a horrible experience. Most kids and families were in the school when it hit us. Good thing it happened in broad daylight. It was my first time to experience a super typhoon firsthand. I’ve seen many on TV but there’s nothing like it in real life. The wind was dark and cold and you could see roofs flying in different directions. If it happened during high tide, most likely we would have been carried by strong waves. We are just so grateful that no one died in the island when it happened. Some people from nearby islets had to move to our school for evacuation but they didn’t have homes to come back anymore.
The kids couldn’t come back to school yet because they have to dry up their clothes or help their parents rebuild their homes.
We can now communicate through Facebook.
Thank you for showing so much care.
Although there were, luckily, no fatalities on the island, the devastation caused by the storm was major. Most families lost their homes and fishing boats, and very quickly people started running out of food and clean water to drink. The storm also destroyed sections of walkways at the school and between the islands making it nearly impossible for people to seek help as well as offer it to their neighbors. And the once beautiful beaches were now littered with debris.
I wrote to Roger, asking how Band of Brothers could help, and soon after I received his response:
Thanks T. The parent and kids need help T. They need materials to rebuild their homes. They need food. They need school supplies for their kids because they lost some during typhoon. Please tell others to help us T. People are starving already.
Band of Brothers immediately sent $500 to Roger who was able to take that money to Sagay, the closest city, and purchase emergency food and water from local sources and get it to the kids and families that needed it most. This is a plan of getting cash to our main point person and then working with his or her trusted team to distribute it quickly. We have seen this operation work before and it is working now in the Philippines. Sending in boxes of supplies by plane or helicopter is often the first response by people wanting to help, but often, because roads and fields have been damaged, there are logistically no ways to get those supplies to the people.
When you can coordinate and work with local teams on the ground, you have a much better chance of getting help to people immediately. We’ve been able to use Western Union to wire money to Roger, and within hours, our team on the island is able to then help themselves and buy exactly what they need when they need it.
With funds raised by wonderful donors, many of whom are my own neighbors here in Newport Beach, Band of Brothers has been able to continually send money to the island and the local people to buy not only emergency food and water, but supplies to start rebuilding their homes. A couple of days ago I received an email from Maristel, one of the teachers at Molocaboc Integrated School and the Girl Scout leader as well, who has been selected to oversee the rebuilding project. She sent pictures of the parents, teacher, children, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts all unloading the supplies off of the trucks, organizing them and distributing them to the families in need. The people in these photos weren’t so much helped by our donations as they were empowered by them to help themselves.
There is much work ahead and Band of Brothers will need to raise more donations so that we can help the people of Molocaboc get their lives back. In the coming months we will need to:
Buy survival food for the island’s 600 poorest families
Replace the children’s school supplies that were destroyed
Provide a free lunch for 200 of the poorest children at school
Repair the walkways between 3 of the islands
Help Rebuild 400 out of 1000 homes totally destroyed with stronger materials. Help repair 200 homes severely damaged.
Help repair poor families’ roof water collection systems
Build large water tank to supply school with water for children and for watering lunch program plants
Build and rent fishing boats to help local community and, through a fish barter arrangement, supply food to our school lunch program.
If you’d like to help, please visit DONATE BY CLICKING HERE or mail a check to Troy Mikulka, 617 Acacia Ave, Corona Del Mar, Ca 92625. Make Check out to Band of Brothers Foundation.