Top officials of the Seventh-day Adventist world church November 19 voted to contribute US$250,000 to humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of one of the most devastating typhoons to make landfall in recorded history.
Supertyphoon Haiyan tore through central Philippines November 8, flattening entire towns with 195-mph sustained winds and a massive storm surge. The storm crippled
communication and transportation in the region, hampering relief efforts for days.
“We want to express to the Adventist Church in the Philippines our sensitivity to this enormous tragedy,” said Juan Prestol, undertreasurer for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. “The amount of money is not the greatest in the world, but we want to demonstrate that we care, and we want to be an example for other church entities that will also contribute,” he said.
The donation comes from the Adventist Church’s World Budget Contingency Fund.
A statement voted by top church officers said, “The assistance will be used, at the discretion of the [Southern Asia-Pacific] Division, to help restore normalcy to the lives of our members and people affected in the area, with consideration given to restoring the normal operations of schools, if advisable.”
Since initial emergency relief, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has distributed more than 3,500 food packs and 5,000 shelter tarps. The humanitarian arm of the church has also partnered with other relief organizations to set up water purification systems in areas where clean drinking water is needed.
Adventist hospitals in Cebu, Calbayog, and Bacolod serve as hubs for medical outreach in affected areas, an update from the church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division said. The church’s East Visayan Conference in Tacloban also serves as a center for relief operations and medical assistance.
“The process is slow because Adventist members are also trying to save the remains of what were once their homes,” a statement from the conference said.
According to ADRA Philippines, needs remain “dire.” Most of the estimated 11 million people displaced by the storm remain in urgent need of food, water, and shelter.
“Saving lives and relieving suffering are priorities of the Adventist Church,” said G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the Adventist world church. “The wonderful people of the Philippines have suffered much in this disaster and deserve all the help we can give.”