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Michael in the Philippine's Update #10: Connecting the Dots
Had an amazingly successful day tagging today. Long story short we were driving along a road east of Basseney and saw a group of people clustered around 10-15 muddy boxes and bags of aid. Apparently, this baranguy (small town) had received a helicopter drop and were getting ready to divide the contents among all 665 people who lived there, absolutely no enough. When we stopped and pulled over, they surrounded the car and clapped when I got out. These people were desperate. We talked with their area "captain" (the person in charge of all the people living in the area), tagged it and found another 1,200 people just across the street who were in the same situation.
Spent the rest of the afternoon tagging and found an interesting pattern. Most of the towns are receiving about 2kg of rice per family per day. It's not a lot, but it will keep them alive for now. On American standards, this is as poverty as poverty gets, but relative to those who have nothing, we have to make our notes, and be disciplined to focus on those who are truly starving.
This is where the value if a good assessment comes into play, everyone and I mean everyone will say they need food, but some will have more than others, so how can you tell who to believe?
I've done this enough to know how bad their situation is in about 15 seconds, much of it based on body language, mannerisms and facial expressions. When you find someone truly starving, you know by how they walk, talk and act, regardless of what they say.
There are other obvious things, for example, when you ask what they need, If they answer "mosquito nets" then you know they are eating, and probably don't need food as badly as the person who comes running up to you as soon as you get there.
Came home, ate and helped unload 135,000 meals- those will be delivered tomorrow. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go to a distribution yet, but I will soon. They sure are gratifying, but I also understand that sometimes its more important for me to focus on other things, so the actual deliveries are less of a priority for now.
Had a great planning meeting tonight with Craig and Demarius of the Salvation Army, and from what we saw today as well as other reports, a huge food order would be completely justified, and I'm hopeful it will happen.
The SA has tentatively approved delivery of aid to the 2,000 or so people we found today, their ration cards will be filled out tomorrow and if everything is planned it should be delivered on Thursday.
Very busy today tomorrow (as always)
Many of the cities we tagged today are living day to day on 2kg of rice per family. It is delivered by a government truck, not exactly luxury, but enough to survive. It is difficult to acknowledge that even though they have very little, we have to stay focused on those who have nothing. These boys were really shy of me, but I was able to get them to join me for a quick picture. You can see the conditions they are living in behind me.
Found a pocket of survivors who are really hurting. There was a helicopter delivery (literally a few boxes to be split between almost 700 people), which won't last them more than a day. Looks like we are going to be able to help them, there are some procedures that we have to go through, but it's looking like the day after tomorrow.
If you are having a bad day, just remember you are probably doing a lot better than you realize. Day after day I'm seeing the people of Leyte struggle to rebuild their humble homes with scraps and debris, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.