TYPHOON HAIYAN - Appeal for Assistance to Victims from Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.
In Father General’s brief conversation with me shortly before I left Rome on 9 November, he conveyed deep concern and prayers for the victims of super Typhoon Yolanda ( “Haiyan”). All our Jesuits are thankfully safe (though a few are still trying to establish contact with family members). But thousands of our people lost their lives; other untold thousands, their homes and properties. It has already been acknowledged that this typhoon is the worst this year, and perhaps the worst natural calamity ever to strike the Philippines. Some estimates put the death toll over 10,000. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council today reported nearly 2,900,000 families have been affected, some 24,000 houses damaged and major infrastructures devastated. Many parts of the Visayas still do not have electricity and communications, water, food, shelter and other basic necessities. Travel to and from some affected areas is still not possible.
The country still reels from the Zamboanga City siege and the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu a few weeks ago. Evacuees in those afflicted regions are still homeless, and yet now new cries arise from people suffering in other calamity-stricken areas. In view of this, I strongly urge all our Jesuit communities and institutions 1) to mobilize resources to assist afflicted areas, 2) to simplify celebrations, including Christmas parties, so as to be in solidarity with our people, and 3) to gather our constituents, partners and friends to reflect and pray over these events and discern what courses of action to take.
Let us reinvigorate that spirit by reaching out to our suffering people and collectively and concretely address these new and pressing challenges.
Jesuit Mission supports the Loyola Catholic College of Culion, a beautiful island to the south-west of Manila. From the early 1900s Culion was the largest leper colony in the world. While Hansen's Disease (leprosy) has been virtually eradicated, the descendants of the lepers who were originally exiled to the island still live there. Culion is an island of displaced people, and Loyola College Culion is the Jesuit response to the need for quality education and training of a largely forgotten people. The Jesuits also run an outreach program among the indigenous Tagbanua people who live on the surrounding islands.
Jesuit Mission has just received word that our Jesuit school, Loyola College of Culion, which belongs to the Calamian Group of Islands in northern Palawan, was badly hit. This includes the roofs of the school, and serious damage to Hotel Maya. It is all very sad. The situation is much, much worse in Tacloban, Leyte.