The Filipino spirit was recently shaken by the catastrophe and devastation brought by “Yolanda”—also known by its international name, “Haiyan”—a supertyphoon that was considered one of the strongest in history.
The typhoon greatly affected even basic transactions and services in the Visayas region. Major roads were impassable, lines of communication broken and electricity cut off. Yolanda left our fellow Filipinos wounded. Some are homeless, some have lost their lives, and some survived but are suffering from hunger.
Despite the unwanted situation, the call for unity was heard, as different countries continue to reach out in the best possible way. Tourists who were supposed to enjoy their vacation chose to help our nation through volunteering for relief operations, a clear manifestation that Filipinos might have really invested real kindness to deserve the favor back.
Generosity continues to pour out. Some institutions have sent manpower to facilitate the repacking of donations, some countries lent helicopters to mobilize the transport of relief goods to areas that are still inaccessible by land or sea.
Domestic business magnates, local celebrities, schools and government institutions established initiatives for in-kind and cash donation drives.
On the other hand, we, as benefactors concerned with the situation of the victims, expect our donations to reach those who really need it. Stealing donations and depriving the victims of their hope to survive would certainly not do justice to all the aid.
There are three steps that can be taken to kill corruption in disaster relief. First, choose the correct beneficiary. Donating is like depositing your money in a bank; the money needs to be secured. We, as donors, should ensure that we are putting our investments or donations in the right organization that can really bring our donations to the proper beneficiaries. We may donate to accredited nongovernment organizations or foundations.
Second, disregard selfish motives. It is a sad reality, though, that we are hearing stories of people who can still steal donation bags even when they were not affected by the disaster. We should be aware of those opportunistic pretenders who have no conscience, and are taking advantage of relief operations.
Third, don’t let relief operations become political capital for politicians. It is good that outreach initiatives are being done by local officials. Yes, the desire to help is evident, so there is no need to put names, tarpaulins and other paraphernalia with the intention of boosting popularity level and public image. Helping others should be wholeheartedly done without any conditions.
Aside from basic needs, security is also urgently needed by people in affected areas. People who have not been reached by donations are starting to do things that are a threat to security. Authorities should be deployed to maintain peace and order.
Filipinos, known for their desire to do good for others, are now being deprived of that goodness by Mother Nature. As countrymen, we can do simple yet impactful things to help the Yolanda victims stand up and rebuild their broken lives. We should all help without any negative intentions.