Volunteers from HSBC Philippines have been providing support to victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) as part of the bank’s ongoing contribution to the international aid effort.
Employees from the Cebu branch – which is close to one of the worst-affected areas – made the six-hour journey to Bantayan island to distribute food parcels directly to barangays (small communities) affected by the typhoon. The team has also provided relief packs to communities in Kintarcan island and on the mainland of northern Cebu.
John Nicholls, Chief Operating Officer, HSBC Philippines, was part of the team that visited Bantayan. “We set out at 2.30 am,” he said. “Even so, there was still a queue to get on to the roll-on, roll-off ships because of the huge amount of aid collected by the Cebuano people.”
After a 90-minute crossing by boat to the island, the team travelled past damaged houses and fallen trees. They arrived at the remains of a school where people had queued to await their arrival.
“We were soon handing out the relief packs that the branch team had been preparing for several hours after work every evening of the preceding week,” Mr Nicholls added. “We managed to provide goods to everyone that had queued and also some extra packs for carers – some of whom were surprisingly young.”
The trip is just one of the ways that HSBC Philippines is backing the relief effort. Local employees have donated money and thousands of bottles of water, cans of food and medical supplies. Colleagues in other countries are raising funds too, while HSBC has made donations of more than USD1 million.
We managed to provide goods to everyone that had queued and also some extra packs for carers
Chief Operating Officer, HSBC Philippines
HSBC volunteers have also been providing practical and logistical assistance to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). This includes setting up IT infrastructure in the PRC’s headquarters; encoding the missing persons list backlog provided by the social services department; on-site inventory management and tracking of aid; and providing contact centre and operations support.
The work is continuing. The team in Cebu, for example, spent one evening feeding 400 Tacloban evacuees in the Tinago Evacuation Centre and is sending food parcels to two towns in the province of Leyte.
Mr Nicholls, who has also been supporting Gawad Kalinga, a local non-governmental organisation, emphasises the urgent need for further support for the millions of people affected by the typhoon. “One family I spoke to had lost 24 members to the storm surge. What words of comfort exist for such scale of loss? They had nothing but the clothes they arrived in: no identity documents, no phones, no children’s toys. They had no home to go back to, no relatives to live with. What lies in store for them?”
To donate to the relief fund, visit the Philippine Red Cross website: http://www.redcross.org.ph