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At the end of February 2014 we received this report from the APBAid (Asia Pacific Baptist Aid) reconstruction effort in the Philippines:
It is now more than three months since super typhoon Haiyan caused extensive damage to life, housing, livelihoods and infrastructure in the poorest provinces in central part of the Philippines. Filipino Baptist Churches were right in across the affected areas. Support from Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF) member groups, delivered through APBAid brought much appreciation and encouragement to these churches. The Baptist Conventions of the Philippines were able to assist over 20,000 households with relief items.
Category 5 super typhoon Haiyan, locally named "Yolanda" struck central Philippines islands of Leyte and Samar on November 8, 2013. It made a landfall of sustained windswept upto 235 km/h, a gust of 275 km/h and waves as high as 15m. We have seen the pictures and the reports on our TV News and in our papers. The numbers of those affected and the number of dead are still fluctuating as different reports come in. UN sources estimated 11 million people were affected with 673,000 displaced. Initial reports indicated at least 10,000 people had died in the storm. The official death toll began much lower but is still rising. Tacloban city in Leyte has received the most news coverage. It has been substantially destroyed by the storm and by the tidal surge that came with the storm.
The Philippine President, Benigno Aquino has declared the disaster as 'national calamity' on Monday November 11th.
With that vision, mission organisations have always done things like schools, hospitals and agricultural programmes. It is not possible to preach the Gospel to people sick or on the edge of starvation without trying to do something for them. The book of James says "Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!" (James 2:17 CEV). Working for the poor is bringing our faith into the real world and saying that it must result in compassion for those in need.
BANZAid is the aid and development department of the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS), working alongside tranzsend, MPIL and Mission World. As a development organisation we work by supporting projects that alleviate poverty, facilitate sustainable development, build local capacity and advocate for peace and justice in local communities.