By DAVE FORNEY
On Nov. 22, Dave Forney, a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot/mechanic serving in Kalimantan, Indonesia, took these photos and filed this report from the Philippines, where he is assisting in the relief efforts:
“Yesterday I went out on the helicopter, first flight of the day, to the small islands in the little Quiniluban Archipelago. I spent the day going from island to island, overseeing the safe off-loading of food and relief supplies from the helicopter into the hands of hungry villagers.
While waiting for each subsequent heli-load, I was able to visit with village leaders and locals on each island, assessing their current needs and finding out how best we could serve them. Everywhere I looked there were signs of the destruction from the super typhoon that ripped through this area a week and a half ago. Many people lost almost everything they had to the typhoon — homes, boats, etc.
I can’t count the number of times I was personally thanked by the men, women and children for the help that we brought them. These are small islands, each one with 30 to 400 houses. In a situation like this, where so many hundreds of thousands are in desperate need throughout the Philippines, the attention of the world is focused on the areas with high population densities — big cities and towns. Smaller places like these islands are completely off the radar screen of the massive humanitarian effort reaching places like Tacloban. If not for the combined efforts of New Tribes Mission, MAF and the local Philippine churches here, the beautiful people on these islands would have received no relief supplies. They realize that, and are deeply grateful for the help we’re providing!
I really wish that I could have written down every comment, or recorded them, so that each and every person who’s been involved in this response effort could be encouraged the way I was from the gratitude that I heard. Many people commented that they had eaten very little or nothing since the typhoon, until we brought them food.
Mrs. Nelpe Solis in Sitiu said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the first food that anyone has brought us since the big storm. We are very hungry, but now we can eat. The people are so happy.”
The tarps are also extremely helpful because in some places 70% or more of the homes are completely gone or just a pile of rubble, and many of the ones still standing have no roof. On one island the little school children were meeting in the highly-damaged church building, under a tarp for a roof, because the school was destroyed.
I was able to share with Mrs. Nelpe and the local village leaders there and in each of the other island villages that we served yesterday that this was a gift from MAF, New Tribes Mission, the local Philippine church, and many Christian people around the world who want to help them. It’s such an encouragement to also see the way the local church in Cuyo is doing everything they can to help in every possible way. This is a great opportunity for them and for NTM to show the people who live on these islands Christ’s love for them in a very tangible way — meeting real needs.
In Silad, Christine Salvador said, “The people here were so, so happy when they know the helicopter will come to help us! All the people here just want to say ‘thank you’ for God’s blessings to us of food and help. We were so very hungry, but now we can eat.”
For more information: MAF.org