On 8th November 2013, a Category 5 typhoon, named Haiyan, made landfall in Guiuan, a small town in the Eastern Samar province of the Philippines. The storm affected an estimated 15 million people, with 6,000 reported dead. In the town of Samar, the roof of a house that belonged to a Sathya Sai devotee was blown away in the storm and the walls collapsed. Only the altar, which had a picture of Bhagawan, was miraculously unaffected by the passing storm!
The SSIO of Philippines immediately sprang into action. On 16th November, Sathya Sai volunteers loaded a 20-foot container with goods and supplies, including 351 family packs containing food and other items, and transported it by barge to the island of Biliran, arriving on 23rd November. The food and supplies were distributed to the needy by the wife of the local Congressman of Biliran province. By early December 2013, debris had been cleared from most of the typhoon-ravaged areas and government relief supplies were being widely distributed, but the need for humanitarian relief remained. The SSIO began planning for medical camps and offering of food, water and basic necessities on a long-term basis. During the first week of January 2014, Sathya Sai doctors and volunteers toured the badly damaged areas of Tacloban, Ormoc and Biliran to assess the needs, contact local officials and secure a local base camp for future operations.
In early February 2014, Sathya Sai medical volunteers from the Philippines and other countries conducted medical camps in the town of Ormoc and on the island of Biliran. On 10th and 11th February, 760 people were provided medical services in Ormoc, two hours by road from Tacloban. Between 12th and 14th February, several medical camps were organised on the island of Biliran: 310 people were served in Atipolo, 465 people were seen in Calungpang and more than 385 people were examined in Larrazbal. More than 400 kg of medicines, including analgesics, antibiotics and diarrhea medications, were distributed. Food supplements and milk powders were also offered to the needy. Sathya Sai volunteers served daily meals of rice, vegetables and beans in a local area of Tacloban.
Medical professionals and others who are interested in serving in the disaster relief efforts in the Philippines are invited to visit the website, www.sathyasaihumanitarianrelief.org.