Northern Cebu – Curran and Associates Typhoon Relief Mission

Saturday 30 November.

Friday 29 November – The weekend kicked-off on Friday after spending a solid 5 plus hours packing 22 items into our 502 Back-2-School kits at the CFI Co-Operative in Cebu City. The team were real troopers and despite a very early flight from Manila they all pushed through the afternoon to get the bags packed, as they set up a production line that makes German car makers look amateurish.

Saturday 30 November – The team left home at 5.30am and after a “Breakfast of Champions” (the fat white boys went to a Scottish restaurant called McDonalds, the Filipino’s – where else? Jollibee – off course!!) we were on the road just after 6am Saturday to beat the Cebu traffic.

It’s quiet a scenic drive up the coast, but a few hours up the highway the damage to fruit trees, houses and buildings was pretty staggering – barely a house was unscathed the further north we travelled, with many losing roofs and suffering significant damage from the 300km winds. There was not too much chatter in the van – I think we were all a bit shocked at the level of destruction.

When we arrived at Daanbantayan, Day Care Center there was a big crowd of about 400 excited 3-5 year old kids plus many Mums and Dads there to see what had arrived in the truck! The noise with so many small kids was deafening!

Sadly “Crowd Control” is not an Olympic event as one of our staff Eden Jaranilla deserved a gold medal for somehow managing to get these 400 young kids to orderly stand in two lines in the hot sun.

When all the kids where in lines – the C&A team swung into action with the precision of Navy Seal Team 6! These kids who have been through a horrific experience and have very little were so appreciative to receive their bags and invariably gave the team a big smile and “thank you”, before rushing back to Mum to explore the bag of goodies!

With the women in charge, I faded into the background and was pleased to join the new Curran & Associates Weight Loss program, losing two liters of sweat while dishing out School kits from the back of the enclosed truck.

Following the Back-2-School kits distribution, we spotted some shade across the playground and moved the event. It was here that the C&A girls performed the second miracle of the day that would have made Mother Theresa proud; getting these kids to line up again – but with an added degree of difficulty this time – two lines for boys, two lines for girls. Oddly enough – I did notice that the girls lines were formed significantly quicker and the compliance level significantly higher than the boys lines?

(Editor’s note: even at a young age us men don’t like to be bossed around and stand in the hot sun in a line, HOWEVER we will do it if the is something free on offer! Boys – lollies and gifts, Men – beer!)

The kids were entertained by the Curran team playing a number of games, including “Longest Line”, “Pass the Message” and finally singing their hearts out with nursery rhymes and children’s songs, it what is best described as an audition for American Idol in about 15 years or so. The kids were thrilled with the fluffy stuffed toys and other prizes that were handed out by the team.

The highlight was undoubtedly a small boy with Downs Syndrome who stole everyone’s heart and gave us all a big hug when we were leaving. (There is a great pic of his happy smile at the end of our slide show)

After a few hours at the school the team was back on the road, on the way home we had 3 mini-stops along the highway.

Following the disaster there are many people and children from small communities sitting on the side of the road just hoping that some of the aid trucks going to larger towns will stop and share the love, unfortunately most don’t. We were all glad we had some excess fruit juices and school kits to dish out to family groups waiting on the road side.

Only casualties to report on the weekend was sunburn to C&A staff and our English Paparazzi Kev, and a blow-out to one of my sweaty “safety” thongs (they just don’t make Haviana’s like they used too!)

All in all a wonderful day and judging from the smiles on kids’ faces – a very successful Relief Mission! We are hopeful that our efforts made a small contribution to helping people recover from a horrific natural disaster. The damage and destruction is real and the recovery will take many months, if not years. So if you have a chance to contribute somehow, please find a way to do it!

I would like to say a big thank you for Eden and C&A team who organized everything on the weekend (including me!), Brian and Anna from AquaVenture Whitetip Dive Supply for the use of the truck and driver Jerry “McQuire” for the day, Eden’s mum Alma Jaranilla for allowing us to highjack the CFI Co-Op Cafeteria to repack all the school supplies and goodies, Kev Fitzgerald for taking all the great pictures and entertaining us all on a long road trip and the many private donors who contributed to the costs of the Mission.

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