November 20-30 — About 8,200 hot vegan meals were served in Tacloban from November 15 to November 20 by the Sankirtan FFL team headed by Balarama Dasa. Simultaneously, another 2,730 vegan meals were served in Manila by the Food for Life team headed by Makanlal Dasa & head chef Gokula Chandra Dasa.
In Cebu, 4,200 hot vegan meals were served from November 23-30 in some places in Northern Cebu with the help of Gopal Krishna Dasa, Jayasri Devi Dasi and her family who owns the Monterey School where the FFL team set up the kitchen. Hot meals were served while some local monks entertained the locals with kirtan.
A total of 15,130 meals have been served over the past 13 days.
Local Officials Fully Supporting FFL
On November 30th, the Food for Life emergency relief team reached Bantayan Island, which took 5 hours by road and a 1 hour barge. The local municipal officials were very supportive of the Hare Krishna Food for life volunteers and enthusiastically provided everything the team needed. They were particularly pleases to learn that they would be serving hot meals.
On Sunday December 1st, the team began serving two hot meals daily. “The response was overwhelming,” said Baladeva Dasa. “So many people were starving and rushing to grab the food.” Head chef, Rajendra Dasa and his assistants worked tirelessly day and night to prepare the meals and distribute them to the refugees. Sometimes the volunteers are exhausted and have feelings of stopping for some time, but then when they see the enthusiasm and appreciation in the eyes of the people, they feel totally enlivened again. “I felt so much relief in my heart seeing their bright smiles,” one volunteer explained. “I see that our meals give them a spark of hope and that makes us ready to cook for more and more people,” said another.
“Our only problem is running out of supplies of grains and vegetables to cook and and lacking a vehicle to bring the food from one place to another. The costs of goods here are very high. Transportation is also very difficult without our own vehicle,” explained Baladeva Dasa.
The Food for Life Emergency Relief team have been receiving some donation of food supplies, but storing and using some of these donations presents another set of challenges.
Over the last two weeks, the Food for Life volunteers have experienced things they have never seen or felt in their entire lives. FFL Manilla Director, Radha Lila shares:
“Seeing people who have lost their loved ones; who lost their homes, money, basically everything, and who were now hankering for even one glass of water with the most desperate emotion, brought tears to our eyes. We are even more determined now to go on and reach out to more people. Feeding them just one time is not enough.”
Every one of the recipients of Food for Life’s delicious vegan meals expressed overwhelming happiness. However, even the thousands of cooked meals they deliver to different places every day is not enough to fill the stomachs of all the people in each village. “To satisfy them, we try to prepare heavy meals like rice and viand (mixed vegetable with soya or white beans),” said Radha Lila.
Disaster by the Numbers
In Northern Cebu, more than eight villages were hit hard by Typhoon Yolanda-Haiyan. Bantayan island, Malapasqua and Maya experienced 98% devastation. Bantayan Island alone has more than 30,000 families who have lost their homes.
In Manila, 18,000 evacuees have been transferred from Tacloban over the past 2 weeks and before that most of them were settled temporarily in different evacuation centres or “tent cities” in Mandaluyong, Taguig, Pasay and Cavite.
The Food for Life Emergency Relief team is now prioritising to feed people in the remotest places who do not currently receive support even from the government. Most of these people are those that were not prepared to leave their homes before the Typhoon hit or people who just didn’t have a choice of living anywhere else. At the present time, the government and other NGOs are trying to maintain and feed people in the evacuation centres only.
Another Food for Life team is preparing to distribute hot vegan meals (prasadam) in Tacloban next week and other nearby cities.
Information compiled by:
Julie Anne Borja
(Radha Lila Devi Dasi)
Director-FFL Manila, Philippines
Please visit FFL Philippines website : http://foodforlifeph.webs.com/
Contact us at : (+632) 215-0076, 890-1947, 0917-8378176
Ask for Radha Lila (Julie Anne), Ananda, Gopal or Gopi Mata.
Email us at : email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
To send donations directly to Food for Life Manilla:
Account Name: ISSRMM-Food for Life
Account Number : 291-729182246-7
Bank: Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company
Branch: Bagtikan, Makati City
Swiftcode / IBAN code: MBTCPHMM