N. Mindanao, Lanao Sur students aid Yolanda survivors

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Thursday, January 30, 2014


AMID the delay brought recently by Tropical Depression Agaton, student volunteers from Northern Mindanao and Lanao Del Sur finally left Wednesday to send support to Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

The students would seek justice over the inadequate and close-to-nothing aid from the government.

Michael John Watson, a Bachelor of Science in Education major, began to wonder on the role of the government in giving support to those affected by Yolanda.

Release funds

He said the release of funds for the victims was barred based on flimsy reason and to tax the money without considering the urgency of survivors’ need for support.

Watson will go to Tacloban to help the community demand from the government the aid the survivors deserve.

Rochamae Bihag, Tulong Kabataan-Northern Mindanao regional coordinator, said the fund intended to alleviate the suffering of the people in Tacloban has not been released by the government.

She added the aid per family amounts to P40,000 can already bring relief from bondage to exhaustion and poverty to survivors.

Bihag said: “Although the amount is not enough if you consider sustainable recovery from their loss, it can help them surely for a month or two.”

She furthered the Yolanda victims organized an alliance called People Surge (Alliance for the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda) calling for the release of funds and other support from the government.

Bihag said People Surge is also demanding for sustainable development—housing, jobs and livelihood assistance, price controls, speedy restoration of basic services like hospitals, schools, and the restoration of their water and electricity.

Outside the walls

Watson said it is important for students not to contain their learning on the four walls of the classroom.

He added the youth needs to integrate to society and know what is really happening.

He added that educating the self about social realities is not enough if concrete actions are not done to change it.

“What’s the point of knowing if you don’t get to do something about it?” Watson asked.

He added the main reason why we study the society is to change it.

The government’s inability to solve the woes of the survivors prompted Watson to volunteer for Tulong Kabataan-NorMin hoping to be part of the change the people want to see.

“Aside from reading history books, the youth should help craft history outside the boundaries of a university,” said Watson.

Bihag added: “The youth is the hope of our nation. And being the hope, the youth from Northern Mindanao is set to conduct psychosocial activities, cultural presentations and relief operations.”

Writers

Rommel Limjoco, regional coordinator of College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao, said the writers under Tulong Kabataan-NorMin intend to gather firsthand information about the situation of the people in the area.

Limjoco pointed out that the media outlets failed to fully show the real stories and issues the survivors raised.

The data they will gather are intended to spread the information on the lapses of the government to provide the needs of the victims in the Yolanda-affected places.

“As writers, we need to be there. We need to integrate with the people. We need to experience what the people are experiencing so we can write objectively about what is going on,” said Limjoco.

Relief goods

Bihag said they brought with them more than 500 food packs for the survivors.

She said the food packs contain five kilograms of rice, five canned goods, monggo bean, noodles and dried fish.

Bihag said the Bachelor of Science student-volunteers will do their best to give psychosocial support to the children and mothers in Tacloban.

She added they will also present cultural presentations for the Yolanda victims.

“We don’t have much. But our heart is full and sincere in helping the victims of Tacloban,” said Bihag adding that the volunteers are willing to give whatever they can for the victims.

Nearly 100 students from Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, Bukidnon State University, Central Mindanao University, Southern Philippines College and Ateneo de Cagayan converged at the Capitol grounds Wednesday prior to leaving for Tacloban.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 30, 2014.

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