The Taiwanese people and government continued donating funds and relief supplies to the Philippines following the disaster caused by super Typhoon Haiyan. The storm devastated the central Philippines on November 8, causing more than 6,000 deaths and wreaking havoc among 10 million people.
As of December 5, money and material donations made by Taiwan’s government, civic groups and individual citizens have reached NT$358.5 million (US$11.09 million). In addition, within days of the disaster, a 35-person team organized by the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps arrived in the affected areas to provide free medical assistance.
In accordance with President Ma Ying-jeou’s vision of Taiwan as a humanitarian aid provider, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked closely with non-governmental organizations to provide prompt relief and assistance in rebuilding the hardest hit areas.
Late November, Sun Wen-hsien, president of the Chiu Chang Mathematics Education Foundation, took a group of 27 schoolchildren to the Philippines to participate in the International Mathematics and Science Olympiad for Primary School Students. Through the organizing committee, the participating students also carried 10 kilograms of rice, noodles, biscuits or canned food to be donated to storm victims.
These efforts follow the airlifting of more than 150 metric tons of aid in 18 flights by Taiwan’s Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo planes, as well as the transport of 530 metric tons of relief goods to Cebu Port aboard its naval vessel.
Supplies included prefabricated homes, solar generators, tents, rice, clothing, ready-to-eat food and potable water, donated by private citizens and a wide range of civic organizations and charity groups, including Taiwan’s Red Cross Society, Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Bliss and Wisdom Foundation, Namchou Chemical Industrial Co. Ltd., I-mei Foods Co. Ltd., I-Kuan Tao Association, and National Fishermen’s Association.
The goods were distributed with the assistance of volunteers working for Taiwan’s charity groups in the Philippines, joined by over 16,000 Filipinos affected by the typhoon who were employed by the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation.
Early December, while leading a trade delegation to the Philippines, Wang Chih-kang, chairman of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), donated US$120,000 collected by the organization.
Taiwan’s government agencies, coordinated by Minister without Portfolio Lin Junq-tzer, have worked closely with the Ministry of Health and Welfare which promptly established a special bank account for monetary donations, while MOFA and the Ministry of National Defense (MND) designated two aid supply collection centers, one in northern Taiwan and one in the south. As mentioned before, the MND also dispatched aircraft and a ship to transport relief supplies, as well as mobilizing soldiers to help collect, sort, pack, load and ship the goods.