NEW JERSEY: On Friday, April 25, 2014, at 6:30 – 9:00 pm, at the Asian American Cultural Center, AF3IRM member Ninotchka Rosca will give a report on the aftermath of the super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The Rutgers Association of Pilipino Students (RAPS) is hosting the event which is open to the public. The Center is at the Livingston Campus, 49 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854, and can be contacted at (848) 445-8043.
“Typhoon Haiyan, “ said Ms. Rosca, “is a vivid illustration of what’s coming with climate change. It is incumbent for all of us to take full measure of its toll on human life. This is not just for those of Philippine ancestry. No race, no ethnicity can escape these changes and we need to cooperate to make sure that survival won’t be only for the few with resources.”
With the highest landfall speed ever recorded, typhoon Haiyan decimated the island of Leyte, as well as parts of Samar and Cebu islands. Estimates of fatalities range from 8,000 to 12,000, with 600,000 homeless and 11 million directly affected by the storm. Seven million trees, including entire coconut groves upon which the livelihood of thousands depended, were destroyed.
Along with AF3IRM National Chair Jollene Levid, Ms. Rosca visited Leyte, Cebu and Zamboanga this January. They went through villages which had been totally wiped out by the typhoon and where residents were desperately re-building on their own, while searching for missing relatives and friends. In the course of this needs-assessment mission, Ms. Rosca tracked down a rumor about a thousand still unburied bodies – something denied by authorities – and the two found them in the yard of a building near the San Juanico bridge.
Following reports of sexual assaults – also stringently denied by authority – in the typhoon areas, AF3IRM, in cooperation with the National Association of Asian and Pacific Islanders to End Sexual Violence (NAPIESV), sent Ms. Rosca and Ms. Levid to the Philippines to conduct a needs-assessment analysis, focused on women and children.
“Trafficking, prostitution and child prostitution are much feared and much talked about,” noted Ms. Rosca wryly, “but about which not much is done.”
Both Ms. Levid and Ms. Rosca have been giving presentations on the typhoon to various groups. “We approach the issues comprehensively,” explained Ms. Rosca, “so that people leave with a sense of how to interface with the damaged communities.”
Phase 2 of the AF3IRM/NAPIESVE Philippine mission will begin in second half of this year. It will focus on training people to establish safety zones for women and children, as well as ensure that their specific needs are among immediate relief goods.
Anyone who wish to help, contribute or work with the mission can email [email protected] For direct cash donations, please access the AF3IRM project page at www.sponsorphilippines.org. — ##