Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan Vegan Food Relief – Update

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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 […]

Report from the front line — helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan

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November 11 – Our FFL team started out for Leyte in the morning. We left our base camp at around 8am to travel some 1500 km Abuyog, Leyte. We drove to Legazpi city in the Albay province. November 12 – We continued driving, carrying rice, dahl and vegetables, diesel and fresh water in preparation of the challenging situation ahead of us. We then reached the port in Matnog, Sorsogon at around 11:00 pm only to be greeted by a huge line of motorists and passengers all waiting to catch the boat. All of them had been stranded for days because of the typhoon. Luckily, we managed to get into the priority lists to board the boat. November 13 – At 1:00am we finally boarded the ship. We continued our journey until we reached Catbalogan city in Samar, about 100km away from Tacloban — ground zero for emergency relief. Some of us slept inside the vehicle while others pitched tents on the sidewalk. The following day we continued to Leyte province, reaching the San Juanico bridge that connects the Samar and Leyte island at around 11:30am. As we got closer, we all watched with mouths agape at the devastation of the typhoon — there were scattered debris everywhere, destroyed houses blocking the road and dead bodies still lying on the sidewalks. A pungent smell of death and sadness dominated the air. The faces of agony greeted us in the streets as people wandered around here and there still in a state of total shock. Many were holding placards and shouting “We need food, we need water, we need help“. We proceeded further until we reached the town of Abuyog around lunchtime. November 14 – we started the distribution of prasadam (sanctified vegan meals) at the Brgy.Sto Nino Evacuation Centre serving more […]

Thousands of vegan meals being served to Haiyan survivors

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“We are working almost 24hrs a day” November 19 – More packages of hot rice and tofu bean curry were served at the Villamore Airbase to the newly arrived victims of the Typhoon who were later transported to the evacuation centers in Manila. November 18 – The Food for Life team is currently in Sogod Leyte acquiring more supplies for feeding. More than 2000 meals were served this morning in Tacloban city, Palo and Tanauan Leyte. On Sunday, the volunteers serve over 1500 meals in the townships of Mayorga, Dulag and Tolosa. “We are working almost 24hrs a day,” explains emergency relief coordinator, Balaram Das. “It takes a lot of time to prepare meals under these tough conditions. We start cooking as early as 1am and then we leave around 8am for the distribution, before returning as late as 12 midday, only to get ready to do it all again for the afternoon shift,” he said. Balaram has been taking photos of the distribution, but currently has no way to upload them through email as there’s no electricity anywhere. He expects to be able to upload photos by November 22 when he is able to return briefly to Manilla. All communications to our Food for Life Global office has been through Facebook messenger via his phone. “The people are really happy receiving our meals. In fact, they are running after it! The current situation in Tacloban has calmed down with most of the local people having left the town,” he explained. Many other relief agencies are in the area, however, Food for Life’s unique contribution to the disaster is their freshly cooked vegan meals. “No other agency is doing this,” exclaimed Balaram. According to Balaram, all other food relief agencies are distributing canned goods, instant noodles and uncooked rice. “Food for […]

Typhoon Haiyan Relief – Update from Food for Life

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UPDATE – Eight Food for Life volunteers from Manilla left on Nov 11 by land transport to Legaspi city and then took a two-day boat ride to Samar. The delays were due to many other charitable groups all moving in the same direction trying to help out. Volunteer director, Balarama das, explained, “It is very dangerous because people are becoming wild and desperate due to hunger and trauma.” Another group of Food for Life volunteers from Manila are prepared to leave as soon as possible. Food for Life Emergency Relief Coordinator for the Philippines, Radha Lila said, “Our support team in Manilla are trying to raise funds locally while Food for Life Global, The Lotus Trust and other Filipino people are trying to help us raise abroad. “The main issue with the relief endeavour is transportation. Our present Food for Life vehicle that we use for our daily feeding in Manila is unreliable for long distance travel. “I have approached Indian Chamber of Commerce, as they have a connection with the C-130 (Army officials) who has been helping them to transport their collective donations of ready-to-eat-food, however, the director of the Social Charity department informed me that there is currently no transportation available. “I have also sent a letter of request to the Red Cross to loan us a 6×6 wheeler truck and they approved, but all their trucks have already been deployed 2 days ago. It is desperate times here and transportation is a critical part of a successful relief effort, but so far we are not having much luck.” The Plans Food for Life will set up 5 camps in different affected areas to feed 2 meals per day to a minimum of 2500 people in each camp.
 There will be continuous supply of produce and grains from […]

URGENT Help Needed for Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

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Typhoon Haiyan roared over the Philippines with pounding rain and top sustained winds approaching 200 mph as it neared the coast. “It is the strongest tropical cyclone on record that’s made landfall, writes Jeff Masters at Wunderground. That death toll is expected to rise. According to the AP, “close to 720,000 people had been evacuated from towns and villages in the typhoon’s path across the central Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.” FOOD FOR LIFE RESPONDS Food for Life Philippines is responding to the emergency with hot vegan meals. A team of volunteers is gathering resources and equipment to expand their efforts immediately. A spokesperson for the team, Balarama Das, contacted Food for Life Global for assistance. “We are sending money to help with the initial stages of the relief effort,” explains director, Paul Turner. “However, the response to this national disaster is going to be a long-term one, so more funds are urgently needed to keep our volunteers supplied and supported,” he said. Our local FFL coordinator just sent us this brief report… “Here’s an update about the situation in Tacloban city and nearby places: there is no water supply and no food supply there; people are getting frustrated and will do anything to get food like stealing and looting. There are more than 1600 dead bodies recorded now and there are thousands missing. The local authorities are planning to have a mass burial tomorrow. However, some bodies have already been buried just along the roads. “Many of the nearby towns are impossible to reach, because of the devastation. There are no banks open and other establishments are closed all over the place. If possible, please try to send as much money as possible now before we enter the main disaster zone so that we can continue our […]