Tag Archives: Disaster Relief

Story Immersion: When the Heart Becomes Involved

by Don Kesterson

I’ve never been to the Philippines. For many years, I researched the country, their government, the lay of the land and the culture. I immersed myself in studies of the Filipino way of life, of popular music, clothing styles and food choices. I read about their country’s devout religious faith and was impressed. I even searched for recipes of Filipino dishes I could make at home, so I could cook and eat as a native Filipina might. As best as I could from a distance of over eight thousand miles away, I enjoyed the Philippines.

You can understand, then, why my heart sank when I read of the devastation caused there by Typhoon Haiyan. Tacloban wasn’t my hometown, though the tiny island of Leyte was the subject of some of my research. Yet just as an author doesn’t have to live in an area to write about it, anyone with the tiniest grain of compassion in their heart doesn’t have to experience first-hand storm destruction to feel empathy and sympathy for those who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones in such a disaster.

The death toll sits near two thousand. It is expected to top ten thousand. Over two hundred thousand are now homeless. Over 200,000! I can’t wrap my mind around a figure like that.

I think of what I have learned about Leyte when researching the area for my novel. I picture the tropical foliage surrounded by blue water. I visualize the bustling city with high-rises, busy freeways, packed sidewalks. I imagine shoppers strolling the malls and mega-stores and mom-and-pop convenience marts.

I can’t imagine it gone.

The United Nations is sending $25M in aid. The US Government is sending $20M more. We are told it won’t arrive fast enough to save many of the lives of those in immediate need of medicine, clean water and food. And we are told that when it does arrive, it won’t be nearly enough.

The Philippines isn’t my home. My home is—and I pray always will be—on American soil. But for those who call Tacloban, Leyte and the Philippines home, I am touched by your pain.

Would you like to help those affected by this catastrophic disaster? Doctors Without Borders and The International Committee of the Red Cross are accepting contributions by check, credit card or PayPal, earmarked for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. Just as you don’t have to live in an area to write about it, you don’t have to be hurt to feel the need to ease the suffering of another. Please do what you can to help someone in need today.