By Johnny C. Nunez
LEGAZPI CITY (26 Dec. 2011) – Filipino families traditionally hold reunions on Christmas day and New Year’s day and they go to great lengths to be together on these two occasions.
Some 50 Albayanos, however, decided to sacrifice their family reunions this Christmas and New Year seasons to serve and help the hapless victims of Storm “Sendong” in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City in Mindanao.
They are members of the Albay WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Mercy Mission who are now in the two disaster areas.
Composed of medical doctors, nurses and other volunteer health workers, Albay WASH Mercy Mission, left Friday, December 23, on board the BRP Antonio Luna of Naval Force Southern Luzon to provide medical assistance and clean and potable drinking water for the typhoon and flood victims. They will return home on January 6, 2012.
The mission brought with them Albay’s now popular Water Purifying Machine which can filter and decontaminate 33,000 liters of polluted water per hour and render it potable and safe for human consumption.
Albay Gov. Salceda said the dispatch of their WASH mission to Mindanao is not only in response to President Noynoy Aquino’s call for help for Sendong victims, but is also in the spirit of solidarity and kinship with local government units (LGUs) and their constituencies in critical moments of distress.
The WASH Mercy Mission is apart from the Albay Sendong Aid Mission (ASAM) that was earlier dispatched to the disaster areas which validated the need for the special humanitarian mission.
Composed of Provincial Board Members Ralph Andes, Arnold Embestro, Herbert Borja and Neil Montallana, with Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office, the ASAM team also delivered Albay’s P1-million donation — P500,000 each for Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City.
With the water purifying machine’s capacity for producing clean potable water, and a corps of volunteers of medical, health and hygiene personnel, Salceda said the WASH mission could considerably help ease the sufferings of the flood victims who have been deprived of clean and potable water for over a week now.
The water purifying machine has been proven vital in post calamity events in Albay, Pangasinan, Isabela, Iloilo, Aklan, Marikina and Quezon City where it was fielded after they were devastated by calamitous weather disturbances, notably Typhoons Juan, Frank, Ondoy and Pepeng.
A calamity-prone province, Albay has constantly been honing its disaster risks reduction capability and has been successful with its “zero casualty goal” through “preemptive evacuation,” a pioneering disaster strategy, that is now a byword.
The deployment of the Albay WASH Mercy Mission in Mindanao is also being coordinated by the Office of Civil Defense in Legazpi City, headed by Regional Director Raffy Alejandro, who also chairs the Bicol Regional Disaster Risks Reduction and Management Office.
Salceda said the AECID or Agencia Española Cooperacion International Para El Desarrollo, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, provides the bulk of the funds for the WASH mission. (PNA)