The news has been covering the typhoon disaster in the Philippines. Many have sent condolences and prayed for the victims’ well-being. However, few have helped the 5,000-plus victims in the Philippines like history teacher Michael Henrich has. He holds a connection to the country that few people in America have.
“I was born there, for starters,” Henrich said, “and my wife was actually born and raised in the southern province that was most affected.”
As a result of his wife’s history in the country, the typhoon has directly impacted their family. Because there is a lack of communication between the Philippines and America, Henrich and his wife are not sure about the damage that the typhoon has caused to their family.
“My mother-in-law is from the area, and she hasn’t heard from her relatives,” Henrich said. “We’re assuming they’re fine, but there’s no internet or telephone there.”
Because of this, Henrich started a website in order to help the victims. The website takes open applications and distributes money to 10 applicants.
“We’ve raised $14-15,000 in four to five days,” Henrich said. “I emailed the [LB] staff, and I must say, there has been generous donations by the staff. Some staff has also opened it to their students as well.”
Even though students might not be able to start their own website to distribute money to the victims, they still have many opportunities to contribute to the effort.
“Students are welcome to donate money to a reputable source like the website or the Red Cross,” Henrich said. “Continue following the story during Christmas to help; just be aware of the issue.”
Being aware is one of the most important things that a student can do for the victims and their families. As of yet, the death toll is still not confirmed, and many victims are searching for refugee camps and looking for their dead.
“Prisoners were also freed so there’s a lot of anarchy and crime in the refugee camps,” Henrich said. “There is an element of rebel and [extremist] Muslim groups. Criminals from prisons got freed too. Hopefully law and order can solve the problems sooner than later, and the rebel groups get less power.”
Even though several problems plague the Philippines at refugee camps, many are still locating and burying the dead.
“Several more crude headstones have been added…and children played amidst them,” NBC reporter Ian Williams said. “There were more candles and a cluster of leaves, probably the closest somebody could find to flowers.”