CARITAS TAIWAN Response Update to Typhoon Morakot
When Taiwan was hit by a strong earthquake ten years ago, CARITAS TAIWAN experienced collaboration with church organizations especially with diocesan Caritas. Caritas collected funds to help rebuild the lives of earthquake victims and the reconstruction of elementary schools for the poor in the far villages of the aborigines people.
Typhoon Morakot was never expected to be so destructive. Several villages were washed away in the mountain by mudslides. There was no way to reach those remote areas for more than a week. People lived in the dark! Our missionary priests, sisters and local clergy were all stranded with the poor victims with no electricity and nor water! Each day we receive some shocking news from the affected areas.
In the wake of typhoon Morakot, CARITAS TAIWAN immediately appealed to the Church, to the public and to overseas Caritas for financial assistance to answer the needs of those who are badly affected by the typhoon.
Fortunately, Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Asia, Africa , Jerusalem , Hong Kong , Japan , Macau , Singapore , Jinde in China , without delay expressed their condolences, solidarity and concern for the victims and offered financial assistance.
Last August 18, 2009, two (2) CARITAS TAIWAN staff accompanied the 500 charity packages that were packed in two days with the help of more than 40 youth from our handicapped center. The packages were delivered to Kaoshiung and were distributed to different places that were very difficult to reach by vehicles due to damaged roads and bridges. Two hundred (200) charity bags were transported by helicopter to a far village where people are stranded.
The Catholic Church is working in the mobilization of christian and non-christian volunteers alike. This joint collaboration is a significant gesture of unity and solidarity in time of great need.
Caritas Taiwan continues to cooperate with affected dioceses like Kaoshiung, Taitung, Taichung, Tainan, and Chiayi. Most of them have set up a few help centers for receiving relief goods and welcome the refugees.
For the past two weeks the situation remained chaotic and unknown to the outside. There are many missing people whose relatives are still hoping to find them soon. Very sad!
The majority of the refugees are aborigines from different tribes. They are the poorest people in Taiwan and most of them are either Catholics or Protestants. Spiritual comfort is most essential and needed at this time of tragedy. Priests and Sisters have an important role to play!
There can be no evaluation or plan at the moment. However, the damage is really huge and is beyond our imagination. Yet the Church will try its best to help the REHABILITATION projects for the poor.
More or less twenty two (22) schools in the badly affected areas cannot operate in the opening of the new school year (September). However, the Taiwan government will be providing free tuition for the victims who are relocated or are staying in another town with their relatives. CARITAS TAIWAN is communicating with the Catholic schools in the south to find out the number of students who are displaced by the devastating typhoon. CARITAS TAIWAN will subsidized the studentsˇ¦ board and lodging, and other necessary needs so as not to impede the schooling or education of these young people.
Prefab Housing is very much needed. CARITAS TAIWAN would like to participate and help the government in this project so that the poor will at least have temporary-decent place to live and also for the Catholics to build a community of their own.
Once the prefab houses are built, CARITAS TAIWAN could provide a simple ˇ§libraryˇ¨ for each community and for children students in particular. We will donate Church reading material to them such as Bible, Saints stories in the form of comics, etc.
Whenever the prefab houses are materialized, ˇ§jobsˇ¨ related to social work, librarians, etc. need to be created for the natives in the communities to help themselves!
There will be a coordinating meeting to be held at Bishops Conference on Aug. 24th 2009 . More concrete plans will be discussed.