Overwhelming donations for typhoon victims in Philippines
Relief goods for the victims of typhoon Haiyan is the biggest charity operation handled by Philippine cargo companies here, with donations surpassing previous in-kind help to the country.
“Yes, this is the biggest we’ve ever witnessed. Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009) was the last big calamity we sent relief goods to, but with only two 40-foot containers,” said Roldan Vergara, area head of LBC, the largest Philippine courier company in the UAE.
By November 25 (the collection deadline), he predicted, relief goods sent through LBC will fill six containers.
“This is not including the relief goods that are still being packed in the Dubai consulate, which will go to another beneficiary through freight sponsored by LBC,” Vergara said, adding that other cargo companies may collectively fill four containers.
At the LBC branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, help continues to pour in everyday. Vergara said in order to accommodate all donations, he arranged for temporary warehouses in Al Quoz and Mussafah, in addition to its main warehouse in Dubai. Four containers — two loaded on Sunday and two on Tuesday — are scheduled to be shipped out from Dubai on Thursday.
“It will take 25 days transit time to Manila. From Manila, LBC Foundation will hand them over to either the Philippine National Red Cross or the ABS-CBN Foundation,” Vergara told Khaleej Times.
Meanwhile, the Makati Cargo Express, which opened its donation-services on November 11, was forced to halt its operations two days later due to the large volume of donations.
“We closed, as we cannot accommodate all,” said Louleelyn Iris Camma, marketing co-ordinator at Makati Express Cargo. According to her, the company allocated only five boxes to be sent by air freight.
“But we’ve overshoot our limit as of Wednesday last week. They all came at the same time,” she said. Eleven boxes have now been sent to Sagip Kapamilya (ABS-CBN Foundation) — their beneficiary in Manila.
21 additional boxes from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are also due to be sent out in the coming days.
The United Nations estimates that up to four million people have been displaced by the country’s worst natural disaster. Official death toll now stands at 3,976 with 1,602 people missing.
Help continues to pour in
According to Renato Formilleza from LBC Karama, they continue to receive thousands of boxes everyday in varying sizes from different individuals and organisations. “We have walk-ins, who are bringing donations in grocery bags, averaging about a 100 per day,” he said. Manpower was so stretched that some of his compatriots have volunteered to help them in packing the goods.
With many requests for collection, they also have had to hire an extra 15 pick-up trucks everyday to cover the northern emirates. The Karama branch has eight trucks working over time.
In Abu Dhabi, over 40 boxes are getting picked up daily by LBC staff and more deliveries are separately coming in.
These included six tonnes of relief goods from St. Joseph Church and three tonnes from the Western Region. Pick-up is also ongoing from the St. Mary’s Church in Al Ain, which is still repacking most of the donations. So far, 10 jumbo boxes (51x53x76 cm) have been collected from the church.
“We have about 300 boxes of donations in Mussafah warehouse which have been repacked and are awaiting deployment to the main warehouse in Dubai,” said Charles Custodio, who is in-charge of donations in Abu Dhabi for LBC.
Most of the relief goods included new and used clothes, groceries, canned goods, bottled water, medicines, blankets and sleeping bags.
Custodio said operations in the emirate is also stretched and asked companies delivering three tonnes and above to bring them directly to the warehouse in Mussafah. “For the bags of groceries, if you can, please just bring them to our office in Hamdan and schedule a pick-up for the packed boxes.”
To schedule a pick-up, LBC customer service can be contacted at 800-035-702-444, or 055-2872183/055-7055864 in Abu Dhabi and 050-9282248 in Dubai.