Thursday, 16 January 2014

Philippines Diary - Update from the field by Tracey Horner

Update from a field visit in the Philippines by Tracey Horner, received on Tues. 14th Jan., 14:04 London time.

"I finally arrived in Manila over 24 hours after I left my house. The Manila traffic is truly appalling during rush hour, which seems to last for much of the day. It reminded me of the fab BBC Programme "Toughest place to be a...", which featured in one episode a bus driver from London living in Manila and taking over the job of a 'Jeepney' driver for a week.  Funnily enough, the security briefing I received from the CARE office said that staff are not allowed to travel in Jeepney's due to safety concerns!  I ended up commuting back to the office in what Filipinos call 'tricycles', which are like a motor bike with a side car.  These are the same vehicles that Lendwithcare is helping to fund, with loans to some drivers who want to convert their 'tricycles' to less polluting LPG gas.  More details to follow next week when I meet with the company 'Clean Engines' to discuss further funding."

Tweet from Tracey on the day she arrived:
"This morning, I met with the CARE Philippines office to hear about how they are helping people who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda).  We discussed the challenges in scaling up an operation to cope with such a devastating natural disaster. [All updates from CARE's work, including in the Philippines can be read here.] It has been an interesting discussion, it is very easy to imagine how money is needed to buy and distribute food and shelter. But there is so much more involved to ensure NGO's like CARE respond to large disasters responsibly and provide accountability to all donors. The CARE Philippines office had to be scaled up from one person to 16 in a matter of weeks. Luckily CARE has very experienced senior staff who can be deployed in such circumstances and are managing the operation. CARE Philippines has worked with a local partner, Accord, for a long time and it is through this partnership and some new partnerships with some of the microfinance co-operatives Lendwithcare works through that CARE is responding to the disaster.  I will see more on-the-ground activity when I visit the Islands on Thursday, but I am told that CARE has been and is currently distributing food, providing shelter and discussing how people's livelihoods can be re-built.

As I am typing this diary entry, the BBC world weather forecast is showing extensive flooding in the areas I will be visiting.  I hope I am still going to be able to get around and gather the information that I know our Lendwithcare lenders are asking for about the entrepreneurs they have been supporting.

In preparation for my trip I have been reading the diary of CARE aid worker, Sandra Bulling, who was one of the first to visit Tacloban, the worst affected city after typhoon Haiyan. I wonder with trepidation what I will see when I reach Tacloban approximately nine weeks after Sandra's visit."

Latest updates:

Tracey is experiencing a bad sea condition in the Philippines, which is preventing her from reaching the worst affected area of Tacloban. A true experience of how Filipinos are at the mercy of weather every day.

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