Taifun Hayan on the Philippines

Journey from 14.01. - 29.01.2014


All the best for 2014!


We wish you all the best for the New Year 2014!!

Many thanks to ALL our friends, donors, supporters for their great help in 2013 without which our work would not have been successful!


Dear friends,

After a break, we would like to inform you today about the news.

After returning from India, Alexandra spent one and a half weeks in bed. Although the fever had fallen relatively quickly, she continued to feel very dull and exhausted. Meanwhile, she is quite well again. In between, Frank had been a bit worried about her condition, but when after a week’s "sleeping", she started making new plans, it became clear: she was over the hump ;-)

In the last days before Christmas at various events still some activities were carried out for the benefit of  FriendCircle Worldhelp.

On this occasion, we would like to thank : The CSU local section Baunach, Mrs. Weigler

On the way


Good Evening,

Today at 9:00 am, Michael and Alexandra drove  to the Munich airport. They will fly via Dubai and Manila to Cebu, Philippines. Travel time will probably be more than 35 hours. By e-mail, by intermediary of the family of a German doctor, they have found a first point of contact. At the moment they do not really know what to expect.They will have to find out whether phone and Internet connections are working, I will let you know what they will report...

Presumably, they will spend the first few days to get an overview of the needs and the situation on site and clarify the shopping and transport facilities in the areas devastated by the typhoon ...

Kind Regards



Safely arrived - first report with photos in work


Hello everybody,

the last few days Frank had phone contact with Alexandra and Michael. So far, everything went like clockwork; travel, accommodation, investigations on site and the first major distribution of food. Once the two have an Internet connection, they will send the first report with photos.

Kind regards,



1st report Philippines - Jan. 14 to 17, 2014

Good morning,
here is the first report and many photos in the new gallery.
Kind regards,

The typhoon ""Haiyan"" raged with up to 380 kilometers per hour over parts of the Philippines – never before a storm hit the land so violently. More than 6000 people died, four million are homeless..

In Tacloban and environment the need is especially great since in addition to the violent storm huge tidal waves hit over the city tearing away houses, cars and people. Since Tacloban of course is the main focus of international aid and since we heard of heavy destruction also on the Bantayan peninsula we decided to first do something there. As it often happens after disasters the relief efforts ebb off after some time and people are left to their own misery again. But after some two months the disaster is far from being overcome. Many homes have been razed to the ground by the natural disaster. This particularly hit the already poor people with their simple houses mostly made of wood, straw and bamboo.

Fortunately Tanya, Michael’s wife, knew a doctor friend from Nordhalben, Dr. Runkel and his wife Anni, who is native from the Philippines. Anni provided the excellent contact with her brother and his family in Cebu, the city of the country airport. Bernardo and his wife picked us up at the airport and took us to his brother Roberto and his family, where we stayed overnight. The first day after our arrival we could, together with Bernardo organize the cheapest food prices for a truck load to the crisis zone of Bantayan, in the north of the island. Also there, friends of Bernardo’s were immediately ready to help us identity the most needy and distribute the food.

This way, already the second day we could start with a truck loaded with 6000kg of rice, 3000 packs of flavored noodles and sops for the personal hygiene and for washing the clothes, all together with a value of about 5000 Euro.
At our arrival in the region of Bantayan in the late afternoon the truck was immediately unloaded and packaging was started by privately organized helpers. The rice was much cheaper to get in 50 kg bags, therefore it was now partitioned in 5kg portions. The helpfulness of non-sufferers for the needy people of the surrounding villages whom they do not all know, is enormous and special. Many, many hands were helping spontaneously, establishing lists of especially hard hit people and distributing coupons for the distribution in order to prevent a mess.
On the third day we are already visiting some 15 villages to meet the selected people. Their joy is great...

Photo in the gallery:
In a wholesale shop six tons of rice are purchased and loaded on a truck...

Photo in the gallery:
Due to the large number of bags and after negotiations we get a quantity discount from the wholesaler. We pay 37 instead of 45 pesos per kilo of rice. This results in an incredible discount of 786,88 €.

Photo in the gallery:
Here the noodles and soaps are loaded. Front left on the photo: Michael and Bernardo, who is helping with the organization of material and the truck. His brother Roberto has a shop for building materials and therefore good contacts so that even the truck transport cost only half the normal price.

Link to the photo gallery: Click here

2nd report and more photos

Good evening,
below is the next short report with many photos, see the gallery (link at the end of the entry).

Best regards

Distribution of food:

On January 19 we visit more villages, some of them located directly on the sea and in still more remote areas where the extent of destruction is clearly visible.
With the small transporter repeatedly supply is being brought for the approx. 1200 families and distributed at various distribution places. Previously for each village one or two responsible persons have been appointed to identify the neediest persons and hand them over a Coupon to bring along for distribution.

Photo in the gallery:
Our tireless helpers Andi (Director of the local school) and his wife Alice as well as her grand-children. Not to forget Jumar (not on the photo), who put his car free of charge at our disposal and who is helping us everywhere...

Photo in the gallery:
On the wet sand people are looking for clams to eat like these children do…
Due to the strong monsoon wind with waves up to 5 meters high the fishermen also in other parts of the Philippines cannot go out to sea and some are already complaining about hunger.

Photo in the gallery:
This little boy looks longingly at the treasures of the store. We buy out the entire stock of the store! Cost: 57,33€. The villagers are delighted and of course also the little boy...

Photo in the gallery:
Since we are late due to the visits to other villages, these people have been waiting for several hours for the distribution of food!

Photo in the gallery:
Many, many children are lining up to get bread rolls, cookies and candies...

Link to the photo gallery: Click here

Link zur Videogalerie: Hier klicken

3rd report - safely arrived home

Good morning,

Wednesday evening Michael and Alexandra safely returned back home to Bamberg. The return flight again took more than 30 hours and both were quite tired at their arrival...
Here is a further detailed report. Many photos will follow.

Update Feb. 2nd: photos are now online.

Best regards,

3rd report:

In the morning of January 22 we take off with Philippine Airlines from Cebu to Tacloban.
The weather is still unsettled and stormy so that ferries cannot run or have to turn back due to dangerously high waves.
At our arrival we are picked up by Jimmy, a colleague and friend of Bernardo’s who has already helped us in Cebu and provided a good contact with the helpers in Bantayan.
After the disaster, the airport of Tacloban is a special experience: collapsed walls, the roof appears to have been repaired in many places with new corrugated iron, there are makeshift toilets with buckets of water for rinsing. The building has no windows anymore, it is open like a barn and the overall impression is more that of a bus stop than an airport...

Jimmy drives us to a hotel in the city center where we luckily get the last small room. At the reception we are informed: "Fourth floor, elevator does not work, cold shower water and if the power supply fails, there is no emergency generation". "No problem", we answer and are happy about the low price for the room: 820 Pesos per night= 13,44 €.
After stowing the luggage in the room, we explore with Jimmy the area along the beach and in remote villages, to see where the need is greatest and where we can best help with our limited resources.

Two and a half months after the disaster devastation is still seen everywhere. Overturned and uprooted trees, mainly coconut trees, which from the airplane look like a carpet of cross and transverse matches. In between small and large pieces of concrete wall, lots of garbage and many provisionally assembled accommodations. A closer look one can easily imagine how long the cleanup by the countless tireless helpers will still go on. It will no doubt take many years or even decades to restore the original state and the economic level of the city as it was before.
During our car ride Jimmy tells us that the wife and two children of his brother Gregor were killed in the great flood "Haiyan". Even Gregor had never imagined such a magnitude of the disaster. Like many other men and fathers of family he also stayed in the house to bring the things if needed up the stairs to a higher floor higher. Around his property there had been a great wall and in some distance there had been a little lake at a lower level. All signs were against a flood under these circumstances. Gregor’s wife, his 8 year old son and his 4 year old daughter did not survive the flood. "Yolanda" as the typhoon is called here penetrated the house out of nowhere after a previously calm atmosphere and broke the windows. The three of them were pulled out of the house. Gregor had almost also lost his life if there had not been a wave containing dirt and foreign bodies, a brown flood that dragged him up where he managed to hold on a trunk.

The flood caused by "Yolanda" remained one to two hours as high as the houses before slowly withdrawing, leaving a horrible image of destruction with dead bodies lying around and floating in the water. Many other fathers and adult sons guarding their houses with the aim of protecting their property made the same experience as Gregor
In his case, however, his wife and children had also remained at home.
Based on the weather forecast and the announcement of the typhoon many precautions had been taken before November 8, 2013 to evacuate the people living near the beach. Many mothers with children gratefully took advantage of these measures. However, nobody here had expected that the storm which hit the land with an unimaginable speed of 380 km/h would produce waves up to 20 feet high (about 7 meters).

Days after items such as motorcycles and the bodies of the victims were recovered up to two kilometers away from their homes. Former rice field now turned into mass graves. At the time of our visit, the bodies had been recovered and buried, but the sight of outer and inner devastation leaves many desperate people.
We decide to support especially the widows and half-orphans in "Cendehug", a village about 10 km outside of Tacloban with incredible devastation on the beach area.
Here it is ensured that no one has to starve. The World Food Programme looks for it that everyone has enough rice, various local television stations donate plywood and corrugated iron roofs to families. This is no enough, but it helps to reduce the worst adversity. Other aid organizations and UN groups are providing medical help and ensure that the children can again attend school as soon as possible. For this, tents and quick-built timber-frame buildings are erected. In addition, lots of clothing are donated because after the disaster people stood partially literally naked there.

"We can survive", says Anne, mother of three, "but we do not know how to continue."
There is no financial support from the government and most women have no work to earn a few pesos for everyday life.
Moreover, there is this unspeakable suffering of those who have lost their husband of even several family members.
When visiting the mothers in their meager accommodations, we find them smiling. They have learned to cope with the situation, to live for their children, but the tears in their eyes reveal the true state of their heart.
When handing over to the widows with up to 11 children the financial support of about 80€ and the village head accompanying us explains them that they are to use this sum as an opportunity to start a small business to live on in the future. Most of them break into tears. Minutes of silence and a mix of sadness, hope and happiness are moving us and let us be thankful of what just happened.
The following days we buy bread, everyday items that are urgently needed, sweets for the children on the street and in the village school.
We consider several individual stories like the one of the 82 year old Anna.
Anna currently lives together with 19 other persons under one roof in crowded conditions. She is sitting in a wheelchair. 8 members of her family were killed by "Haiyan".
Meanwhile word has spread that we are giving support to the widows and their half-orphans.
When we reach the house in which Anna lives, she says with a laugh: "I have also been a widow for 15 years”. But a moment later she is serious, shows us the rusty parts of an old sewing machine, operated by the feet. "Before the typhoon I could sew clothing for all, but my sewing machine was destroyed by the storm. Now I’m just a burden for all", she sobs.
Since much of the donated clothing has to be changed and sewn to fit the individuals, we ask the same evening for a manually operated sewing machine in three shops. In the first two shops the devastation had also destroyed the machines on stock. However, we were lucky. In the last shop a friendly lady told us that tomorrow some machines will arrive by ferry from Manila and that she could arrange for one of these to be delivered to the address in Cendehug in the afternoon, meaning that there would be no delay for us for our further work. Said and done. The next day a truck arrived towards 3pm. We loaded the machine on the jeep of Jimmy’s brother Gregor who had kindly put the car at our disposal. At the cottage in which Anna lives, we first gave her some utensils such as scissors which we had bought from a hairdresser since we could not get one. Additionally, some roles of sewing thread, several buttons and a bale of cloth. At first, Anna looked stunned and asked: "Is this for me?" She was trembling. "That’s not all", we said. Some strong neighbors helped to heave the heavy equipment out of the car.
When the machine stood in front of Anna, she heartbreakingly burst into tears. Over and again she stammered: "thank you. Thank you. I cannot express in words what I feel."
Even the men from the neighborhood had tears in their eyes and felt with Anna.

Daniel, a 60 year old man, tells us with glassy eyes, that three of his sons survived. Six other family members were swept away by the flood. His wife is still missing. "Do you get a pension?", we ask. "No, I am a simple pedicab (bicycle taxi) driver transporting people. My vehicle was destroyed by the storm. Only at age 77 I will be entitled to 500 Pesos (=8,00 €) monthly. As always, we briefly explain Daniel who we are and that we receive donations from friends in Europe to support people in need. We promise to give him a new bike transport vehicle. Daniel bursts into tears.

The following days we receive the material for the construction of some huts for widows who have not found a suitable shelter.
Christina is one of the woman who gets a new wooden hut. In the arms of Alexandra she keeps crying for some 5 minutes. As soon as the hut will be ready, she will recover her children from the care of her mother because so far she saw no possibility. Her children have been staying in the 100 km distant hometown of her mother for almost two months.

In the medium sized “corner shop” of the city the everyday things are again available. There is no big choice but the basic needs can be satisfied. Right next to the cash register are three things which in a shop like this are usually not common in Tacloban but which presently almost all people need:
Packages of large nails normally found in hardware stores or craft shops, thin, foldable foam mattresses and large plastic tarpaulins.
In shops for construction materials you will still many times a day hear: ""Out of stock"".
Weather permitting and if goods can be transported by ferry from Manila across the sea to Tacloban then first priority is given to food. When material such as roofs are transported, the government buildings have priority.

Not all shops are open again. Partly, because the owners have not yet returned to Tacloban, partly because there is a lack of products.
At 5pm latest all shops close down. During the first weeks after the disaster, there was a curfew from 4pm until 4am, when all inhabitants had to stay in the house. If someone left the house he was threatened by the military as there was still a state of emergency.
The looting of stores during the first days after the big storm with some violent and even deadly clashed causes by the panic of the people made this necessary.
Jimmy tells us: ""The first five days we lived only on biscuits and everyone got one glass of water a day. This was all. We did not know whether international aid would reach us in time. Many were in panic to die of thirst or starve to death. The first day after the disaster, many places were still flooded and between the floating debris people were looking for something to eat or trying to catch fish with their bare hands.

Jimmy is also happy and takes part while we support about 30 widows of the village.
Giselle, one of the beneficiaries, purchases the same day chopsticks on which she intends to put food, roast it on the roadside and sell it.
Christina buys potatoes and when we come to see her again the is already sitting by the roadside and selling…
The tremendous spirit of optimism couples with the hope by gathering all strength to improve life again leaves us silent and makes us feel that we are in the right place.

Photo in the gallery:
There are many moving situations, when we visit the widows.

Photo in the gallery:
When Christina got the news that her husband and his parents dies in the flood, she was not responding the first two weeks. With her baby on her arm Christina ran all day along the road to and from the village. When neighbors managed to make her sit down and eat, she did not stop crying.

Photo in the gallery:
6 year old Joshua has lost all his family members: father, mother and three siblings. He had been the only one to go with his uncle to the school for evacuation. In order that Joshua does not have to go to work but can finish the last year of his schooling, he also gets support.

Photo in the gallery:
"It's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember", says this epitaph.

Photo in the gallery:
This is the little altar of the family in which the 82 year old Anna lives. Eight persons were killed. On the photo is written: "We miss you all. Rest in peace. We love you."

Philippines - Final video


Good evening, we just uploaded a further video on our stay in the Philippines. Michael completed it yesterday. You will find the direct link to the video at the end of this journal entry. Best regards, Frank

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