Latha Caleb, Save the Children Country Director,
Philippines Oct. 2, 2009 – Manila, Philippines
Another day… there is tension in the city…a lot of fear as Manila is preparing itself for another typhoon that could possibly hit the islands in the early hours of Saturday. People are scrambling to stock up on food and water and other essentials. The government has notified people to go home early to be able to prepare their families for the super-typhoon! I have not stocked up on food for the last 6 weeks and my stock of food is down to two cartons of milk and a packet of cereal. There is tons of work to be done…. The emergency team meeting…welcoming Annie Foster – the team leader who is flying in from Guatemala – ensuring that all the requests for resources to do our work is followed up… cluster meetings and coordination meetings to be attended…check if the team that went for non food items distribution has come back from the field… follow up on procurement…..get the latest situation update done…track the latest typhoon…follow up on requests for communication materials.. photos and comments for use at head quarters… be on the conference call at 9 pm to touch base with the home office in Westport…the list of things to be done keeps growing… I seem to be prioritizing and reprioritizing my list, thinking which one of these things can wait and what needs to be done immediately. Suddenly I remember what Riel, our sponsorship manager, told me. “A couple of days ago I was among the staff who spent time packing the relief goods. Today it is my first time joining the relief distribution. At 1PM, we hurried to Western Bicutan, one of our sponsorship communities. Parents with their children, and some children without their parents, made up the queue of people waiting to receive the relief goods. We finished around 4pm. There was no time to eat lunch but it doesn’t matter. Lunch can wait, but a child cannot!
Yes! We need to do all this all at the same time! We need to make sure we are doing this so that we don’t keep children waiting! We need to do it Now! And in the Filipino way of saying it – Now Na!