No selfies, please, we're 'Yolanda' volunteers (and other tips for relief operations)
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In the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda, thousands of volunteers heeded the call to send aid to storm-battered Eastern Visayas.
More people continue to help repack the bulk of relief goods, give counseling and medical assistance to survivors, and rehabilitate the storm-ravaged provinces.
Volunteers would do well to heed some of the advice of people who had already gone to the calamity zones or those who have organized relief operations from the outside.
After successfully preparing 82,400 family packs at the Ateneo de Manila University’s relief operations, organizers Daniel Remo, president of the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, and Joseph Barcelon, student arm head of the Disaster Response and Management (DReAM) Team, have some tips for those who wish to help in similar operations.
Know what you are going to do when you get to the venue, and dress appropriately for it.
Remo noted that some volunteers wore heels and mini-skirts, which must have been cumbersome given that their tasks included hauling heavy packs of relief goods.
Do not bring valuables, as the venue was sure to be heavily congested.
Who wants to lose a laptop while helping out?
When you arrive at the venue, bear in mind that if the pace seems slow, it may be because this is what works. The organizers have a system and are working to make things efficient.
For example, some volunteers had to wait for over an hour Friday night because there were too many of them and not enough space. The college covered courts needed to be cleared of the finished family packs and transferred to waiting delivery trucks first to make room. This is an opportunity to socialize, but when have a task to do, focus on it. Do not take selfies because it holds up the line.
Do not overdo it.
Some people, in their eagerness to volunteer, get cuts, wounds, and nosebleeds, or trip over their feet. They even refuse to listen to the medics standing by. Learn your limits, said Remo. “We care for your health.”
Follow instructions and you will be able to help more people.
Medical mission volunteers Sanndra Orosa and Dr. Celine Lucila returned to Manila Sunday after three days in Tacloban City.
Here are some things they learned from the experience.
You need a strong attitude.
Try not to get too emotional as this may hinder you from doing what you are there for.
In their case, it was to tend to the wounds of the residents, listen to their stories, and spread a bit of cheer.
Be prepared to see the worst.
That should be your mindset. “The situation you see on TV is what you get, only seeing, feeling, hearing things around and in front of you is really different,” said Lucila.
In their case, it was “a lot of water,” canned food, flashlights, face masks, power banks, and mosquito repellent. Some also brought Vicks to apply just below their noses to mask the mixed odors of dead bodies and piss. They also brought sweets to munch on since food was scarce.
Go with a big group.
Have a base.
Be prepared to get stranded, unless you have private transportation on the way out.
The two met people who were at the airport for days, including a mediaperson and other relief workers.