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on December 14, 2013

Labels: The Philippines , Disaster-Relief

Volunteer Dr. Todd Holzman examines a patient at Tapaz Municipal Hospital

Members of the HOPE Family,

Since striking the Philippines 35 days ago, the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan is still unfolding. As one of the deadliest and most destructive cyclones on record, it has now affected 12 million people, with 5,924 deaths and 1,179 missing.

Project HOPE volunteers, along with our corporate partners and donors, responded quickly to our call for help. Critical support has allowed us to reach the most vulnerable on Panay, Cebu, Bantayon and Camotes islands and to begin healing lives, rebuilding communities and restoring hope.   When many relief organizations are now leaving the Philippines, Project HOPE is continuing in its efforts to rebuild and re-establish a sustainable health infrastructure. While delivering medicines and supplies to a local hospital, HOPE’s Dr. Dalibor Tasevski was told by local physicians, "Many visited, assessed, promised and left. You came back."

Victims of Typhoon Haiyan are traumatized by their experience

The impact of our efforts is clearly evident, in the daily reports from our tireless HOPE volunteers on the ground. A team of 18 is in Tapaz, an isolated district west of Tacloban, which was described by the Provincial Health Department of Capiz as underserved, remote and unassisted in the aftermath of the disaster.  It is a community of about 60,000, a hub for more rural and remote villages. The Tapaz District Hospital, which serves a large, heavily-hit area, experienced extensive damage. Our team is on the ground caring for both the physical and emotional well-being of those affected. “It's the manpower that Project HOPE is providing that we really need. Project HOPE has been assessing the needs of the hospital and is beginning to work with the staff to relieve the pressure,” according to Tapaz District Hospital Chief, Dr. Jean Aposaga Gloria.

The Tapaz District Hospital has 25 beds, but frequently has up to fifty inpatients, most of whom are unable to pay for their care. HOPE volunteer, Allison Shelley, reported that during the Typhoon, the Hospital’s corrugated metal roof was torn away from the aging cinderblock building piece by piece, as the terrified hospital staff spent the day transferring patients from room to room.  According to one of its physicians, Dr. Gloria, many of them thought it was the end of the world.  To re-open the operating room,  Dr. Gloria has shared her priority list, which includes antibiotics, emergency medicines, counseling and infection control training, as well as windows and paint.  In the midst of this, she stops suddenly to smile and say, “We are so grateful that you are here.” 

Project HOPE is bringing hope back to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Municipality of Tapaz

In this setting, our volunteers continue to go above and beyond the call of duty. Elizabeth Harrell, RN, shared her account:  “Yesterday our nurses assisted with the care of a baby born eleven weeks premature, requiring an IV. One of our volunteer nurses purchased a special premature formula, which led to training the nursing staff on how to mix the powdered formula. The mother was then trained in hand washing and general hygiene.”   As a result of our efforts, this baby, born at just 29 weeks gestation, now has a better chance to survive.  And so will other babies in days ahead.

As of today, Project HOPE has shipped over $2.3 million in medicine and supplies to the Philippines. Based on a needs list created by HOPE staff, volunteers, and government officials, supplies including antibiotics, vaccines and generators are being delivered where they are needed most. At the request of the Provincial Health Department of Capiz, HOPE has donated a generator to the Jamindan Rural Health Unit, in a town completely flooded and not expected to have electricity for at least the next five months.

Project HOPE volunteers helped with the care of a baby born 11 weeks premature

Our teams are expanding to other districts and islands, as well. A second group of medical volunteers, led by Dr. Joyce Johnson, HOPE's volunteer Medical Director, is providing care in the Camotes Islands, another region badly impacted by the storm. This team is working closely with the local Department of Health Immunization Outreach group, traveling to remote population centers to immunize children against childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella virus and polio. They are also issuing Vitamin A supplements to children in the most disaster-affected areas.

Another report from volunteer Allison Shelley described the warm and very public appreciation that greeted the first rotation of HOPE volunteers in Tapaz. Painted signs popped up around town within days of the volunteers beginning their work in the hospital and clinic.  “Welcome Project HOPE and thank you!” read one. Another read: "Thank you volunteers from all over the world.  We will never forget you -- the people of Tapaz."

There is no question but that the people of the Philippines will need continued help for years to come. That is their hope, and our mission. It is a special time in the history of HOPE. Thank you for being part of it!


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