After a long flight from Canada, our Development and Peace delegation arrived in Manila around midnight, Saturday, August 15, 2014. We were tired but excited to begin our visit with our partners in the Philippines, particularly those responding to Typhoon Haiyan. It was such a pleasure to meet the other members of the delegation that I would be travelling with over the next 10 days. I was so impressed with the commitment of everyone in the group, all giving of their time to share in this visit.
The fierceness of Typhoon Haiyan can be easily seen from the road that winds along the coast of Eastern Samar (Philippines). Every few hundred metres, out of the billowing coconut trees, another town of ramshackle houses appears, the tarps that serve as roofs flapping in the wind. With so much devastation around, it is easy to lose sight of what is beyond the palm trees.
Since viruses do not recognize borders, the Ebola virus disease has become a threat for several neighbouring West African countries. Adding to the difficulty of finding a transnational solution is the pressure of controlling a disease that has social, psychological and economic implications.
Arthur Peters, Executive Director, ShareLife Toronto
Arthur Peters is the Executive Director of ShareLife of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He is part of a delegation visiting Development and Peace projects in response to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought alot about the people who were on the Malaysian airliner that was shot down last month. The passengers were likely eating a meal, watching a movie, or speaking with one another, and in an instant it was all over.
It’s been nine months since Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) barrelled through the Philippines, yet evidence of its gale force winds and crushing waves are still very visible all around the city of Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas. Although debris has been cleared from the roads, at times it feels as if it has simply been pushed to the side. Gnarled metal reaches out towards the sky, surrounded by collapsed walls. Nearly every structure has some part of it that is bent, shattered, twisted or simply missing.
We are travelling down a paved road in western Niger, on our way to the village of Garbay Tombo, which is participating in a project being spearheaded by Caritas Niamey. The horizon is ocher, dotted with greenery. There are trees scattered here and there and shoots of millet struggling to emerge from the ground, hampered in their efforts by the absence of regular rainfall. On the side of the road, a herd of magnificently horned cattle are lumbering along slowly, laboriously, in the sweltering heat. They head to a muddy water hole where they can slake their thirst.
Since early July, almost two million Palestinians in Gaza and people in Israel have been caught up in a devastating war. People have no safe place to hide when the bombs rain down on the densely-populated, small stretch land that is Gaza. They see their children slaughtered, their neighbourhoods razed to the ground and all hopes for a future of peace torn to shreds.
The battlefield is neighbourhoods full of children, women and men. It contains hospitals over-burdened with the injured and dead and schools which are being bombed even if they are meant to offer refuge.