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Balm after storm

Novemver 25 - December 1, 2020

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Balm after storm

The Filipino community is rallying together to help typhoon victims back home suffering in the wake of storms that have devastated their homes and livelihoods.

For example, the Filipino Creatives Bahrain, is staging an arts exhibition starting on December 1, and has collaborated with Forex Cargo UMAC-Bahrain to send donations of non-perishable goods and toiletries to the Philippines.

And, fashionably-thrifty Maria Angela Acosta is selling secondhand goods on social media in a bid to raise funds.“I knew I had to do something, even if it’s just a small initiative,” she said.

At the beginning of the month, the Philippines was struck by Super Typhoon Goni, the world’s strongest typhoon of the year, and a week later, was hit by Typhoon Vamco, leaving devastation and chaos in its wake.

Super Typhoon Goni, (also known as Typhoon Rolly) and Typhoon Vamco (also known as Typhoon Ulysses) have affected more than 1.6 million people.

Filipina writer and content creator Maria, who lives in Manama, is using her Instagram account  @themarias, which features a collection of secondhand women’s clothing and accessories for sale, to help rally support for the families and farmers affected by the storms.

“I really couldn’t take how helpless the people were and seeing posts on social media of the victims literally crying for help made me so frustrated because I couldn’t do anything,” explained Maria Angela who started a fashion account in 2018 with her friend Maria Claupin, who moved back to the Philippines last year.

The duo had started their passion project for thrifty designs to empower people through stylish and sustainable clothing and called it The Marias after both of them. Now Maria Angela is handling it on her own and hopes her fundraising efforts will help make a difference and inspire others to do the same.

She said: “I felt guilty being safe and having a roof over my head. There were reports that there was no immediate help from the authorities concerned at the affected areas and that all the victims are relying on right now are donations from different people and organisations.

Last Wednesday, Maria Angela posted a new collection of around 20-plus items for sale and all of the proceeds from this series will be donated to the typhoon victims. She has collected BD41 so far.

“It might be a small amount but it’s the least I can do to help my fellow Filipinos,” said Maria Angela who graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in communication, a major in journalism and a minor in broadcasting.

And, more clothing, shoes and fashion accessories are being donated to the cause through with 100 per cent of proceeds going to the Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund in a campaign launched by expat Venetia Rosetta D’Souza.

The typhoons caused massive flooding in various parts of Luzon including Metro Manila and Cagayan and destroyed thousands of homes.

Many areas in Cagayan, a rice- and corn-producing region of 1.2 million people, were submerged and the heavy flooding affected thousands of families. Some families fled to rooftops to escape two-storey high floods.

As of last week, the International Federation of the Red Cross said 47,000 people were rescued so far, but that it ‘fears for the safety and wellbeing of thousands who remain trapped’.

Both typhoons come at a time when the Philippines is suffering from a surge of Covid-19 infections. Currently, the Philippines have the largest rate of infections in Southeast Asia, second only to Indonesia.

Maria Angela’s donations will be distributed to the ‘Kaya Natin! Movement’ and ‘For Our Farmers’ campaign.

The ‘Kaya Natin! Movement’ is a non-profit organisation that sends relief assistance to the communities hardest-hit by the recent typhoons and the ‘For Our Farmers’ is a donation drive initiative helping Filipino farmers and fisher folk through sustainable and inclusive projects.

She added: “Once donated, the organisations will use the funds to buy items for relief packs and hygiene kits to be delivered to the affected areas. I’m not accepting monetary donations but I am advising interested people to donate directly to legitimate relief drives in the Philippines.

“There are also a couple of small businesses in Bahrain that are raising funds for the typhoon victims in the Philippines which is wonderful.

“People need to acknowledge that we aren’t all born with the same opportunities either. Some people struggle just to survive. Therefore, I believe that we must practice empathy and kindness to others. If you have an opportunity, a privilege and a platform to help the less capable – then by all means, you should do it. After all, every day is a good day to help.”

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